Equinus Contracture

Equinus is a condition in which the upward bending motion of the ankle joint is limited. If you have equinus, you will lack the flexibility to bring the top of the foot toward the front of the leg. This happens due to either tightness of the muscles and/or tendons in the calf. This condition can occur in one or both feet. When it involves both feet, the limitation of motion is sometimes worse in one foot than in the other. If you develop ways to compensate for your limited ankle motion, it can often lead to other foot, leg or back problems. It is named after horses (equine) who essentially walk “on their toes”.



There are several possible causes for the limited range of ankle motion. Often, it is due to tightness in the Achilles tendon or calf muscles. In some cases, this tightness is present at birth, and sometimes it is an inherited trait. You can also acquire the tightness from being in a cast, being on crutches or frequently wearing high-heeled shoes. Medical conditions such as diabetes may cause muscles to stiffen.

Sometimes equinus is related to a bone blocking the ankle motion. For example, following an ankle injury, a fragment of a broken bone can get in the way and restrict motion. Equinus may also result from one leg being shorter than the other.



Most patients with equinus are unaware they have this condition when they first visit us. Instead, they come to us seeking relief for foot problems associated with equinus.

Contact us if you notice:

  • Arch/heel pain
  • Calf cramping
  • Inflammation in the Achilles tendon
  • Pain and/or callusing on the ball of the foot
  • Flatfoot
  • Arthritis on the midfoot
  • Pressure sores on the ball of the foot or the arch
  • Bunions and hammertoes
  • Ankle pain
  • Shin splints


Our Approach

To diagnose equinus, we will evaluate the ankle’s range of motion when the knee is flexed, as well as extended. This enables us to identify whether the tendon or muscle is tight , or if a bone is interfering with ankle motion. X-rays may also be performed. In some cases, we may refer you for a neurologic evaluation.

In some cases, surgery may be needed to correct the cause of equinus if it is due to a tight tendon or a bone blocking your ankle motion. We will determine the type of procedure that is best suited for you.


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