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Tibialis Posterior Dysfunction

The posterior tibial tendon attaches the calf muscle to the bones on the inside of the foot. It’s one of the most important tendons in the leg, holding up the arch of the foot and supporting it while you are walking.

More common in women, tibialis posterior tendon dysfunction is when the posterior tibial tendon becomes swollen or torn. This means it can no longer keep the arch of the foot stable, and this can result in having a flat foot. Changes in the shape of the foot can also lead to arthritis.

What causes tibialis posterior tendon dysfunction?

Damage to the tendon can happen as a result of an injury, such as falling, or can be due to a repetitive strain injury, usually from playing sport such as tennis. If the tendon becomes inflamed then, over time, the arch will begin to fall.

It’s also more common if you:

  • Are aged over 40
  • Are overweight or obese
  • Have diabetes and/or high blood pressure

What are the signs of tibialis posterior tendon dysfunction?

  • Pain on the inside of the foot and ankle which is worse when you are active, making sports such as running very difficult
  • As the arch starts to drop, the heel bone may move outwards, putting pressure on the outside ankle bone

How is tibialis posterior tendon dysfunction diagnosed?

During your first appointment, you’ll have an opportunity to discuss your symptoms with Mr Heidari, who will be able to advise you on the best course of treatment. He may also arrange X-rays to check for arthritis, as well as an MRI or ultrasound scan to examine the tendon and surrounding tissue.

What does treatment involve?

Not everyone who has tibialis posterior tendon dysfunction will need to have surgery. Rest, using ice packs, taking anti-inflammatory painkillers (if advised by your doctor) and/or steroid injections, along with wearing a specially designed shoe or boot can help to support the arch of the foot and relieve pain. In some cases, Mr Heidari will arrange for you to work with one of the physiotherapists on a tailored rehabilitation plan to help strengthen the tendon.

If your symptoms don’t improve, Mr Heidari may suggest you have flat foot surgery.

This information is written as a guide to your treatment but it is not intended to replace the advice of your doctor. Please contact us for advice if you are worried about any aspect of your health or recovery.