Posted by Jenn F. on Friday, July 6th, 2012
Your ankle does so many wonderful things. For example, it connects your foot to your leg. Go, ankle! Even more importantly, it helps you bend your foot up and down. That’s important for walking, kicking a soccer ball, performing various ballet moves, pointing your toes, and did we mention walking? Ankles are indeed awesome.
But with that awesomeness comes the possibility of numerous injuries. Here’s one that you probably don’t often find yourself discussing in light conversation, probably because it take so long to say it that a conversation could end before you finish: tibialis anterior sheath inflammation.
What’s that and why does it have such a long name? The name is long but that’s what makes it more exciting. The tibialis anterior muscle, or anterior tibialis muscle is a large muscle that is found on the outside part of your shin, running down your leg to your ankle. It helps you bend your ankle up and turn it out. The muscle and tendon (the tough tissue that connects the muscle to bone) is surrounded by a protective sheath. That sheath can become inflamed, causing pain and weakness in ankle use.
Why would it become inflamed? Inflammation is almost always the result of overuse. The overuse can sometimes come from poor biomechanics, meaning you’re walking or running a little bit wrong and thus wearing out muscles and tendons that weren’t expecting to be used that much. For example, if you overpronate, or roll inward excessively when you walk or run, you can cause the tendon to rub against the sheath, inflaming it. Runners, people who play racquet sports, and cyclists are typical candidates for tibialis anterior tendon sheath inflammation.
How would I know I have tibialis whatever? Well, if you feel like you’re being hit by a pain ray when you bend your foot up and down, and if you see redness and swelling in the area of the tendon, down around the bump on the inner part of your ankle, then you might have tibial anterior tendon sheath inflammation. You may feel some creakiness if you push your fingers into the tendon while you’re bending your foot. You could also feel weakness when trying to lift your foot up and down.
How do I deal with this? I don’t like having injuries with long names. Rest! Stop whatever activity you’re doing that makes your tendon hurt. Put ice on it for about twenty minutes at a time every few hours until the swelling goes down, usually about two days. Then you can put heat on the area periodically. Once the pain is fully gone you can start running again. Those who have had this injury before say it can take up to a month to fully recover, so just cross-train and let it heal.
You should also see a podiatrist at The Center for Podiatric Care and Sports Medicine (212.996.1900) to get help with rehabbing your ankle so you have full motion and most importantly, find out what you’re doing that caused the injury. For example, you may need orthotics to help correct a biomechanical flaw that’s irritating the tendon.
There! Now I wouldn’t say this is the foot injury with the world’s longest name, but it’s definitely a candidate. If you think you have tibialis anterior tendon sheath inflammation or any other foot or ankle issue, contact The Center for Podiatric Care and Sports Medicine. Dr. Josef J. Geldwert, Dr. Katherine Lai, and Dr. Ryan Minara have helped thousands of people get back on their feet.
If you have any foot problems or pain, contact The Center for Podiatric Care and Sports Medicine. Dr. Josef J. Geldwert, Dr. Katherine Lai, and Dr. Ryan Minara have helped thousands of people get back on their feet. Unfortunately, we cannot give diagnoses or treatment advice online. Please make an appointment to see us if you live in the NY metropolitan area or seek out a podiatrist in your area.