PT eDigest

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The Vicious Cycle of Tibial Tendonitis

Attaching your calf muscle to the bones on the inside of your foot, the posterior tibial tendon is one of the most common—and most irritating—locations to develop tendonitis. Tendonitis occurs when a tendon gets inflamed or partially torn from overuse or injury. When this happens in the posterior tibial tendon, the arch of your foot can give way. In fact, one of the easiest ways for a physician to diagnose this condition is to simply look at the shape and functionality of your foot. A collapsed arch and the inability to rise onto your tiptoes while standing on one leg are tell-tale signs.

The good news is that most people can recover from posterior tibial tendonitis without surgery. But the bad news is that every step you take can exacerbate the condition and impede healing.

Your doctor may fit you for an orthotic to place in your shoe or an ankle brace that will take pressure off the injured tendon. Your best ally may be physical therapy helping you manage your pain and maximize healing in a few key ways:

  • Since rest is so vital to healing, stay off your feet as much as possible for a few weeks.
  • In the initial healing stages, nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory medications like ibuprofen (if your physician approves), ice, electrical stimulation and massage can be used to relieve pain and reduce swelling.
  • While you should refrain from any high-impact activities that involve the foot, targeted physical activity will be integral to your recovery.

It can take up to six months to feel complete relief from this painful condition. We will design a program to help build strength and increase flexibility in the muscles of the foot and leg, which will help compensate for your tendonitis. By allowing your body to properly heal through a therapeutic approach, you will start feeling increasingly better by the week. Recovery is one (careful) step at a time!