If you have weak ankles, chances are, you already know. The joint will feel unstable. You may roll your ankles more often than most people. You could also be experiencing pain and inflammation at the joint. Weak and unstable ankles also may cause problems with your hips and knees.
Today we’re going to explore why tendinitis may be behind your weak ankles - and how you can use that knowledge to make your ankles stronger.
WHAT IS TENDINITIS?
Tendonitis is inflammation and/or degeneration of a tendon. Tendons are the connective tissue structures that allow a muscle to move a bone and connect the muscle to the bone.
Tendinitis of the ankle can be caused by many things - ranging from injury trauma like sprains, overuse, or underlying inflammatory diseases such as gout or arthritis. Tendinitis is sometimes the result of an overall autoimmune condition as well. Usually, it is degenerative and from wear and tear.
The ankle’s structure is a hinged joint (on an oblique axis) that moves the foot in two directions (more or less). You can move it away from the body (plantar flexion) or towards the body (dorsiflexion).
Surrounding this joint is a complex network of ligaments and tendons that support the ankle, connect it to the foot, and anchor it to the calf. The Achilles is one of these tendons. It is the main attachment for your calf muscle and connects at the back of the heel. The peroneal tendons are on the outside of the leg and provide balance and control with walking and running. The posterior tibial tendon attaches at the top of the arch and is responsible for push-off and balance.
When you are suffering from ankle tendinitis, any of these tendons (or another) can become inflamed or break down. Some of the symptoms you may experience include:
- Redness and warmth
- A “loose” feeling surrounds the joint
- Weakness and instability
If your tendinitis occurs from an injury, the onset of soreness and inflammation may be instantaneous. If it occurs from an underlying disease, it will be less sudden and only noticeable once tendinitis has fully set in.
HOW TO RELIEVE TENDINITIS PAIN?
For tendinitis occurring after an injury, immediate treatment is important. This usually involves applying ice, immobilizing the ankle joint, elevation, and limiting weight-bearing with the use of crutches. Sometimes, severe inflammation may require casting. Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) can also be used to decrease inflammation. If your inflammation is caused by an underlying inflammatory condition, consider reassessing your diet to include anti-inflammatory foods, and cutting out those that exacerbate your inflammation. If your pain does not resolve in a day or so or if you are unable to put weight on the ankle, seek professional help.
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Initially, the best thing you can do in many cases of ankle tendonitis is to rest the joint. For example, if the Achilles is significantly impacted, using it while it is still inflamed could cause an Achilles rupture, which is often only able to be fixed by surgical intervention. This is usually not the case but should be considered. Short-term rest only is best; resting more than a day or so will allow further degeneration of the tendons.
Bracing and compression devices or garments (like socks) are very helpful for inflamed tendons. The appropriate brace will be selected by your treating physician.
Wear supportive shoes that don’t inhibit your natural foot structure. Also, consider trying out shoes that actively exercise the tendons and muscles of your feet. The Healing Sole, while designed for plantar fasciitis pain, is also ideal for promoting overall foot health - the features of Dr. Warner’s design actively stretch and strengthen the foot with every step. Try Risk-Free for 30 days!
If cleared to do so by your physician, you can also try some exercises to strengthen your ankle. Calf Raises, standing on one foot while holding a nearby chair for balance, and “spelling the alphabet” with your toes while seated are all great ways to strengthen your ankle joint. We often recommend physical therapy for tendonitis pain and functional problems. If your pain persists after rest, exercise, and other at-home remedies, it’s best to bring it up to your physician.