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Posterior Tibialis Tendon Dysfunction

Posterior Tibialis Tendon Dysfunction

Torrance Foot & Ankle Specialist

The posterior tibialis tendon attaches the muscles of the calf to bones on the medial (inside) of the ankle and the midfoot (navicular). As one of the most important tendons in the leg, it serves the important function of supporting the arch of the foot when walking.

Dysfunction of the posterior tibial tendon is a common problem affecting the foot and ankle. It often results from inflammation or tearing, and can create significant pain. When the tendon becomes inflamed and swollen (tendonitis), it is often due to overuse or repetitive motions, but can also be caused by the natural degeneration of the tendon that comes with aging. This can result in less flexibility, more rigidity, and greater susceptibility to injuries that may lead to tears. Tendonitis and tears of the posterior tibial tendon are often seen in patients with flat feet.

Acute injuries, aging, and overuse in high-impact sports can all cause painful symptoms along the inside of the foot and ankle, where the posterior tibial tendon is located. This pain may or may not be accompanied by swelling, and it often becomes worse with physical activity. Patients may also experience pain on the outside of the ankle as a result of flatfoot.

Treatment for Posterior Tibialis Tendon Dysfunction

Posterior tibialis tendon dysfunction can usually be treated without the need for surgery, using a number of conservative approaches:

  • Reducing pain and inflammation with nonsteroidal, anti-inflammatory drugs
  • Resting and protecting the sore tendon, which may require immobilization of the foot and lower leg using a walking boot for 2 to 4 weeks
  • Orthotics and firm arch supports can alleviate pressure from the tendon
  • Physical therapy, stretching exercises, and heat, ice, and ultrasound treatment can reduce pain and swelling and strengthen the muscles

Cortisone and steroid injections into the posterior tibial tendon are not recommended, as there is a risk that cortisone can cause tendon ruptures.

When conservative approaches fail to provide relief despite months of non-invasive treatment, surgery may be required. Surgical management of posterior tibialis tendon dysfunction will involve tendon transfers to the posterior tibial tendon and cutting and reshaping of the bones in the foot. Studies have indicated that repairing the tendon alone, without reshaping bones in the feet, does not have as successful an outcome as performing both at once.

Request an Appointment

Our South Bay foot and ankle specialist takes a personalized and comprehensive approach to patient care, and can address posterior tibialis tendon dysfunction in addition to any other related issues the feet or ankles, including flatfoot. Torrance Memorial Physician Network proudly serves the entire South Bay from three locations. Call today to request an appointment.