What can I do About Ankle Tendinitis?

Nicole Madison
Nicole Madison

Ankle tendinitis is a condition that affects the tendon located under the bony, knob-shaped part of the ankle; it is called the posterior tibial tendon. Ankle tendinitis may occur when the tendon receives an excessive amount of stress. For example, too much stress can result from certain sports activities. Tennis, football, baseball and basketball are some examples of sports that put stress and strain on the ankles. Anyone can develop ankle tendinitis, but those who are not well conditioned to physical exercise may be more at risk; flat-footed individuals may be more prone to it as well.

An ice pack can help with swelling and pain from ankle tendinitis.
An ice pack can help with swelling and pain from ankle tendinitis.

Treating ankle tendinitis typically involves relieving pain and reducing inflammation. Often, ankle tendinitis can be treated at home. To treat ankle tendinitis at home, it is best to stop whatever activity led to the pain. This means if the patient was playing sports, he needs to stop for a period of time. Continuing with the sports activity will only aggravate the condition. For extreme cases that do not respond to home treatment or that involve severe pain, seeing a doctor is a good idea.

Aspirin may be helpful in reducing the pain associated with ankle tendinitis.
Aspirin may be helpful in reducing the pain associated with ankle tendinitis.

Next, a person with this condition needs to rest his ankle for at least 48 hours, staying off it as much as possible. It may also help to put an ice pack on the area. Instead of keeping ice on the area for hours at a time, however, it may be more helpful to use an ice pack for about 20 minutes and then take it off again, repeating the 20-minute ice-pack treatment several times per day. A special ice pack or cold pack can be used if one is available. If not, the patient can make one by putting crushed ice in a plastic bag and rapping it with a towel.

Compression may also help when dealing with ankle tendinitis. It helps to reduce the amount of swelling that the patient experiences. Special compression bandages, like elastic wraps, can work for this purpose. However, it's a good idea to ask a doctor which type is best used for the injury. Additionally, the patient should keep her ankle elevated above heart level. Placing a pillow or two under the ankle that is already elevated on a bed, couch, or cushioned footstool can accomplish this.

Anti-inflammatory medications can be helpful in treating ankle tendinitis. Generally, those that can be purchased over the counter, such as ibuprofen, should provide enough pain relief. Acetaminophen and aspirin are other over-the-counter alternatives. If these don't provide enough relief, a doctor may prescribe something stronger after examining this ankle injury.

Basketball players commonly experience ankle tendinitis.
Basketball players commonly experience ankle tendinitis.
Nicole Madison
Nicole Madison

Nicole’s thirst for knowledge inspired her to become a wiseGEEK writer, and she focuses primarily on topics such as homeschooling, parenting, health, science, and business. When not writing or spending time with her four children, Nicole enjoys reading, camping, and going to the beach.

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Discussion Comments


@clintflint - You should probably flex your ankle a little bit though, so that it's not just sitting still the whole time it's healing.

The thing with tendons is that they are quite difficult to heal properly. They don't have as much of a blood supply as muscles and aren't really built to regenerate, so they take forever to heal.

I would also have a look at the kind of shoes you are wearing if you are getting ankle pain and tendinitis all the time. Because the normal stress of walking shouldn't be doing that. And you don't want to do a more permanent injury by continuing to walk with shoes that aren't good for you.


@MrsPramm - I've noticed I tend to get it in the winter as well, so maybe it's got something to do with that. I thought it was just because I have weak ankles and still tend to go walking a lot.

The worst thing, to me, about having tendinitis of the ankle, is the fact that you have to completely restrict yourself from going anywhere. I'm always tempted to take an anti-inflammatory and just go out walking anyway, but it only makes it worse in the long run.


It's kind of ironic that an ice pack can help with tendinitis, because another way that you can get it is from letting your muscles get too cold. I used to be very blase about that when I was a kid and would run around outside without socks on even when it was very cold. Or I would sit and read somewhere with my feet on concrete and just not notice that they were getting cold.

I managed to give myself ankle tendinitis a few times before I learned to make sure my legs were warm enough. I guess it happens because the muscle gets stressed and is more easily injured when it's too cold.

Tendinitis in the ankle is a real nuisance for a child as well, since I was not patient enough to stay off it and let it heal. I haven't had it in a long time though (knock on wood).

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