Tendons and Foot Anatomy
Given the important functions that your feet perform and the tremendous force loads they endure, your feet are intricately structured. Between the two of them, you have 52 bones, 66 joints, 214 ligaments, and 38 muscles and tendons.
Sometimes, people are confused about the difference between tendons and ligaments. They might be familiar with the words, but unsure as to what they actually refer to. Essentially, they are both connective tissues – a tendon connects a muscle to bone, while ligaments connect bones to other bones.
The most well-known tendon in the body is the Achilles tendon. This is the largest and strongest of all these connective tissues. It connects the calf muscle to the heel bone (calcaneus). The Achilles plays an important role in allowing the foot to move up and down, which is an important function for walking and running. As a result of its frequent use and the stress put on this tendon from athletic and exercise activities, it is not uncommon for someone to experience Achilles tendon injuries (tendinitis, tendinosis, and ruptures).
Our doctors are able to resolve many of these issues with conservative treatment options like medication, custom orthotics, and physical therapy. In some occurrences, though, we suggest a procedure like tendon surgery to properly treat the issue. When this is our recommendation, you can take comfort in the fact that our team has the skill and experience you want from the surgeon performing your procedure!
Types of Tendon Surgery
Although the Achilles tendon is the most well-known of the tendons, there are other tendons that have essential functions for your feet. This means there can be a range of tendon injuries that can be sustained. As with any lower limb issue, our preferred course of action is conservative care, but sometimes surgery is a recommended treatment option.
Types of tendon surgeries in the lower limbs include:
- Achilles tendon. As noted, this is the strongest tendon in your entire body, but it isn’t infallible. Depending on various factors—age, injury severity, lifestyle and recovery goals—we may recommend surgery to repair the damaged tissue. In the case of an Achilles tendon rupture, this may entail stitching the torn tendon together or using other tendons to reinforce the damaged area.
- Extensor tendon. The extensor tendons in your feet (you also have extensor tendons in your hands) are responsible for lifting the toes up. The extensor hallucis longus lifts the big toe, while the extensor digitorum lifts the other four toes. Both of these tendons run across the top of the foot. When imbalance between these tendons and the flexor tendons (described below) cause a hammertoe condition, we may recommend tendon surgery to correct the condition.
- Flexor foot tendon. The flexor foot tendons are the opposite of the extensor tendons. These tendons run along the bottom of the toes. Depending on the imbalance in the toe, we may need to use surgery to release tension on either set of tendons.
- Peroneal tendon. Surgery for the peroneal tendons—the two tendons running side by side behind the outer ankle bone—is, fortunately, quite rare. More often, we are able to address this injury with the use of conservative treatment methods.
- Posterior tibial tendon. One of the most important tendons in your leg, the posterior tibial tendon is responsible for supporting the foot arch and plays an essential role in every step you take. When posterior tibial tendon dysfunction develops, we will recommend surgery if conservative options are not providing the results you hope to see.
No matter the course of treatment we recommend for your tendon injury, you can be confident knowing that your health, safety, and quality of life are primary concerns for us as well. Our doctors are committed to providing the best possible foot care for you, so contact Foot & Ankle Associates of Florida today.
Use our online contact form or simply give us a call at either 407-339-7759 or 352-589-9550 (if you call from Lake County) and our professional staff will be glad to answer any questions. While on the line, be sure to request your appointment at any of our Orlando, Kissimmee, Lake Mary, Altamonte Springs, or Tavares offices.