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Posterior Tibial Tendonitis

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Your feet are used so regularly that it’s crucial to be aware of changes or any issues you may be having. It’s common for people to ignore what’s going on with their feet and ankles until things have become too painful to walk or function.

Of course, athletes are more prone to pay attention to these issues, but even for good old pedestrians, keeping on the alert for any pain or discomfort can nip more serious problems in the bud.

One of the most common complaints about feet and ankles is posterior tibial tendonitis. This is also known as posterior tibial tendon dysfunction and it is the result of inflammation or tearing of the posterior tibial tendon.

The tendon itself is a major supporting structure of the foot. It is a fibrous cord, beginning at the place where the calf muscles are, and stretching down behind the inside of the ankle. It then attaches to a bone in right in the very center of the foot.

This tendon is so crucial because it helps to keep the foot’s arch in place. The navicular is the bone which holds up the arch.

If the tendon which supports this bone is inflamed or torn, flatfoot deformities can result. Flat feet make walking and running difficult and can cause pain and discomfort as well. While surgery is an option, many people find relief in being treated non-surgically.

Resting the foot, using ice and then wearing orthotics, and in some cases even braces, can help heal the area and promote better support for the feet. If these options are not effective, the goal of surgery would be to either remove the inflamed tissue or to repair any tears that are found.

If surgery is performed, it can be rather complex. Some people do experience limitations in their activity following this type of surgery.

Some common causes of posterior tibial tendonitis or dysfunction include:

• Trauma – a specific incident or high impact injury while jumping, for example

• Overuse – running, walking, hiking; particularly if the activity is relatively new for the individual

• Degeneration – tendonitis which simply occurs over time after many years of use

Some symptoms of this condition include:

• Pain along the inside of the foot and ankle, just where the tendon itself lies

• Swelling in the area where the tendon lies

• Activity aggravating pain, especially high impact activities like running. Even walking or standing, however, may be noticeably painful.

• Pain on the outside of the ankle. This is because when the foot collapses, the bone of the heel can shift to a new position outwards, placing pressure on the outside bone of the ankle.


Posterior Tibial Tendonitis and Tears. Orthopaedic Specialties
Retrieved from the internet on December 28, 2011

Posterior Tibial Tendon Dysfunction. American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons
Retrieved from the internet on December 28, 2011

Aimee Boyle is a regular contributor to EmpowHER

Reviewed December 28, 2011
by Michele Blacksberg RN
Edited by Jody Smith

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We value and respect our HERWriters' experiences, but everyone is different. Many of our writers are speaking from personal experience, and what's worked for them may not work for you. Their articles are not a substitute for medical advice, although we hope you can gain knowledge from their insight.

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