Posterior Tibial Tendon Dysfunction


What is it?

The posterior tibial muscle is deep on the inside of the leg.  The tendon for that muscle, which is the part that attaches onto the bone in the foot, wraps around the inside of the ankle and is responsible for keeping the arch of the foot in the correct position.  When it stops working, the arch can flatten and it can cause considerable discomfort around the ankle.  Often there will be swelling around the inside of the ankle and foot.

Why is it hurting now?

In some people, the posterior tibial muscle is put under a lot of strain.  This is usually people with very flexible, flat feet.  The reason is because the posterior tibial muscles job is to keep the arch up, but in people with flat feet, it is unable to do this so it is straining at all times trying to pull the arch into the right place.  Eventually, the muscle is unable to do this anymore and it can tear causing considerable pain and making walking difficult.  Some common contributing factors to developing this issue is:

  • Being overweight
  • Poor footwear
  • Sudden increase in activity levels
  • Family history of flat feet

Can it be fixed?

Posterior tibial tendon dysfunction is easily fixed if it is treated early.  An orthotic that can help to stop the arches from collapsing so much, offloads the tendon so it can relax and is not constantly straining.  Better footwear can also provide instant relief and your Podiatrist can provide you with the styles and brands of shoes that will suit you best.  If the tendon is left untreated for a significant period of time, it can completely tear which leads to the bones in the foot collapsing and requiring surgical repair.