Equinus is a condition that affects the mobility of your ankle joint. It can make it hard for you to stand, walk, and do other daily tasks. Here are four things you need to know about this condition.
What are the signs of equinus?
People with equinus have limited mobility in their ankle joints. If you have this condition, you'll have trouble holding your foot at a 90-degree angle to your ankle when your leg is straight. This can make it hard to walk or stand comfortably as the transverse tarsal joint in your midfoot needs to compensate for your stiff ankle. This compensation can make your feet feel sore. You may also experience symptoms in the rest of your body like back pain and knee pain.
What causes equinus?
There are many possible causes of equinus. It can be caused by unusual tightness of the soleus muscles or gastrocnemius muscles, the muscles that make up your calves. Another possible cause is a bony block between the talus and distal tibia, two of the bones within your ankle. Equinus can also occur as a result of other foot conditions such as pes cavus (an unnaturally high arch), hammer toes, or hallux rigidius (a stiff big toe).
How is it treated?
If your equinus is a complication of another foot condition such as pes cavus, your doctor will need to treat the underlying problem to help you regain mobility in your ankle. Since many conditions can lead to equinus, the treatments used will vary.
If your equinus is caused by stiff muscles in your calves, you may be referred to a physical rehabilitation facility to learn helpful stretching techniques. Stretching tends to be a short-term treatment, though, and the stiffness will continue to recur frequently. You may need to continue seeing a physical therapist on a regular basis, and if appropriate, you will be told to continue stretching on your own at home.
Surgery is possible for cases where stretching doesn't help. Stiff muscles can be resolved with a surgery called gastrocenemius recession. During this procedure, your gastrocenemius tendon in the back of your leg will be cut, re-positioned to make it longer, and then sewn in place. This helps your muscle relax.
How common is equinus?
Equinus is a fairly common problem. One study examined 34 people with healthy feet and 34 people with pain in their feet to see how common equinus was in each group. In the former group, 44% of people had equinus, while in the latter group, 88% did.
If your ankle joints are stiff, you may have equinus and should see your doctor right away to be evaluated and treated. The condition may be able to be managed with non-invasive treatments such as physical rehabilitation from a clinic such as Nick Roselli Occupational Therapy.