Tendon Pain

Tendons attach muscle to bone. When these cords become irritated, it causes pain, tenderness, or premature fatigue, depending on the diagnosis and situation. The anatomy of the ankle tendons are illustrated.

There are many tendons that have anchor points in the foot. Points D and G represent various tendon sheaths, or thin layers of tissue that surround the tendons to protect them. It is important to understand the function of tendons, to avoid misdiagnosing or misinterpreting instructions from your doctor.

Tendon pain is more of a symptom than a diagnosis. The cause of tendon pain can be many things, depending on the severity of the pain and exactly which tendon(s) are affected.
Because there are a plethora of tendons in the foot, connecting the muscles to the 26 bones in the foot, there is a wide variety in diagnoses.


Tendonitis is an inflammation of the tendon. Normally this diagnosis occurs after a foot or ankle injury, extensive repetitive motion, or concurrent with a bursitis diagnosis.



  • Smaller range of mobility
  • Localized pain
  • Irritation that gets worse with activity
  • Swelling
  • Stiffness
  • R.I.C.E. Protocol
  • Pain relievers
  • Anti-inflammatory medication
  • Physical therapy
  • Lifestyle changes
  • In severe enough cases, surgery may be advised

Tendon Splitting

If the damage is relatively minimal, your doctor will discuss a healing pathway that does not include surgery. Nonsurgical treatment methods include activity changes, immobilization, or anti-inflammatory medication.

Tendon Tear

This is diagnosed when the tendon tears completely. This will have to be repaired by surgery to avoid any permanent damage to the affected tendon or surrounding mechanisms.


Giant cell tumor of the tendon sheath (tenosynovial giant cell tumor) is a diagnosis where a benign tumor grows outwards from the tendon sheath, or bursa, shown above. Other types of tumors in the foot or ankle resemble plantar fibromas or soft tissue masses. Upon diagnosing, your podiatrist will discuss which treatment pathway is best for your case.