Ankle Tendon Injuries
The two peroneal tendons run tight behind the rather pointy bone on
the outside of your ankle. One then attaches to a bone on the outside of the
middle of your foot, and another runs underneath the foot to connect on the
opposite side, helping to strengthen the arch. These are the tendons that make
it possible for you to turn your foot outward, and they provide stability and
balance for your arch and ankle, making it just a bit more difficult for you to
get a sprain. Unfortunately, sometimes these tendons can get damaged. As with
other tendon problems, this damage may come from sudden injury, or may be a
result of long-term (or chronic) issues.
Ankle sprains or repeated stress on the tendons (usually from overusing them)
can cause tendonitis, which is basically inflammation of the tendons. The
problem might be with just one of the tendons, or both together.
Sprains or repeated stress can also cause the tendons to develop acute tears.
If these tears go unhealed or untreated, they can begin to make the arch of the
foot raise up.
Long-term overuse of the tendons can lead to degenerative tears, where the
tendons themselves are stretched so much that they begin to fray and tear. This
type of injury usually occurs gradually, sometimes over years.
When the peroneal tendons decide to make a break for it and slip out over the
ankle bone, its called subluxation. Despite the cool name, this problem is
pretty serious and definitely needs early treatment. Subluxation can happen
because of the shape of a persons ankle bones or musculature, or can be a rather
severe result of a sprain or other sudden injury. If the area is damaged enough,
the subluxation problem might become chronic.
Tendonitis, like other forms of inflammation, will usually make the
area feel warm to the touch, swollen, and painful, particularly along the
outside of the foot and ankle.
Acute tears will likely manifest themselves somewhat similarly, causing pain in
the area and swelling. The ankle or foot is also likely to feel somewhat
unstable (which is understandable since those stabilizing tendons arent working
quite up to snuff).
Instability or weakness will also show up with degenerative tearing, and pain
will tend to occur intermittently (it likely wont be constant). The arch might
also start to rise.
When those tendons slip over the ankle bone (subluxation), youll most likely
feel a snapping sensation in the area. Pain will hit intermittently, and the
ankle will feel pretty weak.
If you suspect you may have a peroneal tendon problem, get in touch
with your podiatrist promptly. He or she will likely check the ankle for
weakness and instability, ask you about any pain you may be experiencing, and
will check to see if the area is swollen or warm to the touch. The podiatrist
might also use imaging equipment such as an MRI or an ultrasound to get a look
inside your foot or ankle to see what the problem is.
If the problem with the tendons is mild, an anti-inflammatory
treatment may be sufficient to allow the area to heal. Your podiatrist may
suggest rest plus anti-inflammatory medication, which may be taken by mouth or
might be injected into the area. However, immobilization may be necessary. Your
podiatrist might use a cast or splint to keep the ankle still, or give you a
brace to wear (always an attractive fashion accessory) during times of activity.
He or she may also suggest physical therapy, which usually includes using cold
or heat to reduce swelling and promote healing, ultrasound therapy, and
exercises to strengthen the area, such as calf muscle stretching. Orthotics can
also provide long-term support.
In some cases, particularly when the tendons have torn, or when subluxation has
occurred, surgery may be necessary to correct the problem. Your podiatrist will
determine the best course of action for you, and may use a combination of the
above treatments to get your peroneal tendons back in working order.
Call 719-543-2476 today to schedule your appointment!