Flexor tendonitis is inflammation of the flexor tendons in the foot which bend the big toes. The tendons run down the inside of the ankle and under the foot to the toes. When the tendons are injured, it can cause foot pain, particularly in the arch and inside ankle. Resting is the best way to treat this foot injury to allow the tendon to heal.
Symptoms of flexor tendonitis
Flexor tendinitis symptoms include tenderness along the length of the tendon which passes round the back of the medial malleolus (bony bit on the inside of the ankle). Pain may be felt in the arch of the foot, on the inside back of the ankle and when the big toe is bent against resistance.
Flexor tendonitis treatment
What can the athlete do?
Rest until there is no more pain. This may mean complete rest for a day or two depending on how bad the injury is or rest from activities which make it worse. It is important to keep fit where possible by cycling or swimming.
Apply ice or cold therapy to reduce the pain and inflammation. Do not apply ice directly to the skin but use a wet tea towel to wrap it in or a commercially available cold pack to prevent ice burns. Cold can be applied for 10 to 15 minutes every hour initially reducing the frequency as pain and inflammation reduce. Eventually, 2 to 3 times a day should be sufficient.
Tape the foot to protect the arch and allow it to rest more easily. It is difficult to rest a foot injury if you have to walk on it but the arch taping can reduce the load on the tendons.
The tendons which bend the toes originate from two muscles of the lower leg: the Flexor digitorum longus and the Flexor hallucis longus muscles, so stretching and massaging these muscle may help.
What can a sports injury specialist or doctor do?
Prescribe anti-inflammatory medication such as ibuprofen which will help reduce pain and inflammation. Always consult a doctor before taking medication as Ibuprofen should not be taken with certain conditions including asthma.
Operating is sometimes necessary to treat this injury. Surgery is often successful for this injury and there have been reports of athletes returning to sport within 6 to 9 weeks of the operation.