Foot tendonitis is inflammation in any of the tendons in your foot. The most common are the Achilles, peroneal, extensor and posterior tibial tendons. An irritated foot tendon is usually the result of overuse and can lead to pain and swelling.
Foot tendonitis (tendinitis) is inflammation or irritation of a tendon in your foot. Tendons are strong bands of tissue that connect muscles to bones. Overuse usually causes foot tendonitis, but it can also be the result of an injury.
Your feet contain many tendons. Tendonitis can affect any of them, but the most common include:
Cleveland Clinic is a non-profit academic medical center. Advertising on our site helps support our mission. We do not endorse non-Cleveland Clinic products or services. Policy
Anyone can get foot tendonitis, but it’s more common in athletes or very active individuals who overuse the tendons. You’re also more likely to develop foot tendonitis if you:
Achilles tendonitis is the most common type of foot tendonitis. Studies suggest it affects anywhere from 1% to 9% of elite and recreational athletes.
Foot tendonitis is usually chronic, meaning it develops over time when you put repeated stress on the tendons in your foot. But tendonitis can also happen suddenly if you overstretch the tendon, over-rotate your ankle or use improper technique when running, jumping or playing sports.
Symptoms vary depending on which tendon you injure, but may include:
Severely overstretching or a sudden injury to a tendon can lead to a rupture, causing the tendon to partially or fully break. A tendon rupture in your foot needs medical attention. Talk to your healthcare provider if you:
Your healthcare provider will perform a physical exam and review your symptoms. They may palpate (press) on certain parts of your foot, ankle or calf. They’re checking for areas of swelling and tenderness. Your provider may also ask you to perform certain movements to assess your range of motion, strength and the severity of your pain.
For many of the tendons in your foot, if not torn, an ultrasound is often the test of choice to see how the tendon moves and what types of injury or degenerative changes are causing your pain.
In most cases, your healthcare provider will recommend at-home treatments such as RICE to manage foot tendon pain:
Once your healthcare provider diagnoses your injury, they may recommend additional treatments such as:
Most people don’t need surgery for foot tendonitis. But your healthcare provider may recommend surgery if your injury hasn’t improved after six months of nonsurgical treatments. Surgical treatments may include:
You can reduce your risk of foot tendonitis by:
Most people recover fully from foot tendonitis without any permanent damage. You can expect tendon injuries to heal with conservative treatments within a few months. If you have surgery, your recovery period could take from six to 12 months. Most people need physical therapy following surgery.
Once you’ve had a foot tendon injury, you’re at a higher risk for future injuries in that area. Take extra measures to prevent reinjury when playing sports or exercising.
Contact your doctor if you:
A note from Cleveland Clinic
Foot tendonitis occurs when you overstretch the tough bands of connective tissue in your foot. It’s a fairly common overuse injury in athletes, but it can also affect older individuals with conditions like flat feet or arthritis. For most people, it’s an injury that heals on its own with a combination of conservative treatments such as rest, ice, stretching or physical therapy. In rare cases, foot tendonitis requires surgery.
Last reviewed by a Cleveland Clinic medical professional on 10/26/2021.
Learn more about our editorial process.