What is posterior tibial tendinitis?
Like many foot and ankle problems, the symptoms of posterior tibial tendinitis may come and go for some time before they become nagging and constant and prompt you to seek treatment. The posterior tibial tendon is especially likely to develop tendinitis, as it bears the brunt of the responsibility for maintaining the arch of the foot. Left untreated, posterior tibial tendinitis leads to progressive flattening of the arch and loss of strength in the arch of the foot
Posterior tibial tendinitis may be caused either by an acute (sudden) injury or from overuse, but typically results from tears in the tendon due to repetitive strain. Over time, the arch will begin to flatten, increasing strain on the tendon. Left untreated, posterior tibial tendinitis may develop into posterior tibial tendon dysfunction. Risk factors include participation in sports with high impact on the feet such as soccer, tennis, or basketball, being female, being over 40 years of age, suffering from obesity, diabetes, hypertension, or prior ankle or foot injuries, and particularly repeat injuries to the foot or ankle.
For most patients, posterior tibial tendinitis starts slowly with pain and swelling along the inner side of the ankle and arch. Although the tendon is responsible for supporting the arch of the foot, most patients feel pain in the arch, heel, and midway up the inner side of the calf. Pain is present in all of these places because the posterior tibial tendon has its origin in the calf along the bag of the tibia bone, then stretches down around the inner side of the ankle, and into the arch. Pain and swelling are often worse at the origin in the calf and the insertion in the
Initially, pain may only be present during exercise, but over time will become persistent while standing or walking for long periods of time, and if left untreated may be present even at rest. As posterior tibial tendinitis progresses, the tendon may progress from simply being swollen to having a full or partial tear. Eventually,
Diagnosis and treatment
For proper diagnosis, you will need to see your podiatrist at Kansas City Foot Specialists for a physical examination of your foot, a discussion about your symptoms and activities, and possibly an MRI or ultrasound of the foot. During your initial examination, your podiatrist may ask you to stand on your tip-toes on each foot. A hallmark sign of posterior tibial tendinitis is
With or without surgery, treatment for posterior tibial tendinitis may take anywhere from several weeks to an entire year. After treatment, whether you have had surgery or not, you will most likely need to use custom orthotics or special shoes for the rest of your life in order to provide adequate support to the affected arch. This is a small price to pay when considering that not treating posterior tibial tendinitis can lead to debilitating, permanent loss of strength and flexibility in the foot.
Ready to learn more?
If you have arch, heel, ankle, or calf pain, call Kansas City Foot Specialists today at 913-338-4440 to schedule an appointment with your podiatrist. It’s our goal to provide you with the highest level of care in order to keep you and up and going long into the future.