Equinus is not another name for a horse! It is a disorder that is characterized by a tight Achilles tendon. If you have an equinus, you have difficult bringing the top of your foot toward the front of your leg also known as a lack of dorsiflexion. This can occur in one or both feet and is compensated for by either picking up their heel early in gait, toe- walking or flattening their arch. This can lead to a whole host of compensation induced deformities on top of the abnormal stress gait induced problems.
What causes equinus? Limited ankle range of motion can be congenital (present at birth), inherited abnormal biomechanics (blame Mom and Dad), or acquired from an accident, neurological problem or stroke. High-heeled shoes on a regular basis can also cause an equinus (you knew I was going to blame shoes at some point).
Why is recognizing equinus important? Equinus can lead to plantar fasciitis (chronic heel pain), calf cramping (Charlie horses), Achilles tendonitis, metatarsalgia (pain in the ball of your foot), flatfoot, arthritis of the midfoot, pressure sores on the ball of your foot, bunions, hammertoes, ankle pain and shin splints.
Diagnosis of equinus is usually made when a patient visits the doctor for an associated problem. Often it is the underlying cause, but the symptoms are why patients seek medical attention.
Treatment of equinus is imperative to solve the symptomatic foot problems. Stretching, night splints, functional orthotics to treat the abnormal biomechanics, and heel lifts conservatively treat equinus. Botox injections have been used for spastic equinus in children. In extreme cases, surgical intervention is necessary for complete relief of symptoms. Only your foot and ankle surgeon can accurately diagnose your equinus and outline a treatment plan for recovery. Call the office and make an appointment for a complete biomechanical exam if you suspect the cause of your chronic foot pain is an underlying, undiagnosed equinus.