Posterior Tibial Tendon Dysfunction (Tendonitis
Posterior Tibial Tendon Dysfunction (Tendonitis)
The posterior tibial tendon is one of the most important tendons in your lower extremities. Its purpose is to stabilize your ankle. It is the tendon that makes it possible for you to point your foot in several directions.
This tendon is prone to overuse injuries that cause inflammation and a host of other symptoms in the ankle and foot. Posterior tibial tendonitis is a common foot and ankle injury, particularly among those who play sports, dancers, and gymnasts. It also affects those with highly active lifestyles and hobbies.
Causes of Posterior Tibial Tendonitis
There are several possible causes of an inflamed posterior tibial tendon, such as overuse, lack of healthy blood supply to the area, and poor biomechanics. Some are more prone to developing this condition, such as women, particularly those over the age of 40, and those with anatomical issues, such as flat feet. People who are overweight or obese and diagnosed with diabetes or high blood pressure are also at risk of developing this condition.
Symptoms of Posterior Tibial Tendonitis
The symptoms of posterior tibial tendonitis include pain in the ankle that may travel up the calf. If you have this condition, you may experience pain and discomfort when walking, tip-toeing, or going up the stairs – essentially when lifting the affected foot. If left untreated, posterior tibial tendonitis can cause an increasing severity of symptoms.
Treating Posterior Tibial Tendonitis
Treatment usually begins with a clinical diagnosis that may require imaging tests in order to rule out other possible conditions. Treatment is usually conservative in the beginning. Your doctor may recommend RICE therapy — rest, ice, compression, and elevation. Anti-inflammatory medication may also be recommended.
In addition, your treatment plan may include physical therapy, which includes strengthening exercises. The exercises will help relieve pain and boost healing of the posterior tibial tendon. Complete rehabilitation is necessary before returning to sports and normal activities. Surgery is rarely needed to treat this condition. However, if it does not respond well to conservative treatments, you may be recommended by your doctor to get surgery.
When it comes to posterior tibial tendonitis, prevention is always the better option. If you regularly engage in high-intensity activities, such as sports, seeing a sports medicine doctor can help reduce your injury risk. Oftentimes, foot and ankle tendonitis injuries are caused by poor conditioning and form. If you have flat feet, a sports medicine doctor can provide custom shoe orthotics to prevent foot injuries.