Your legs and feet have a complex network of muscles, tendons, and ligaments that work in synergy to perform walking, running, and jumping. During sporting activity your legs can come under a lot of strain and impact, and even the day to day of walking and long periods of standing can have a straining effect on your legs. Tibialis posterior pain is a condition that occurs when the tendon that connects the tibialis posterior muscle to the foot is stretched, inflamed or torn.
Causes Of Tibialis Posterior Pain
There are a number of causes of pain in the tibialis posterior. The most common are:
- Flat footedness - If you suffer from flat feet, either congenital or developed from continuous weight bearing on the feet due to an occupation, then you are much more likely to experience this pain. The tendon becomes stretched due to the flattening of your arches and causes inflammation and pain.
Injury - It’s possible to injure the tendon either due to an injury to the foot, or an impact or torsion on the tendon.
Poor footwear - Shoes that don’t support the ankle and sole can lead to overpronation of the ankle and stretching the tendon.
Age - Older people are more likely to suffer from this condition as the tendon gets worn through use.
Being overweight - Because the tendon is stretched through weight bearing, if you are overweight you are more likely to suffer from tibialis posterior pain.
Those who do high-impact sports, such as basketball or football, are more susceptible to tears in this area. Upon swelling or tearing, the foot arch will begin to collapse over time leading to progressively more pain and other symptoms.
Symptoms Of Tibialis Posterior Pain
Tibialis posterior pain is usually progressive, with symptoms beginning as pain in and around the foot and ankle and progressing to increasing problems with balance, walking, and even deformity of the foot.
Typical symptoms include:
- Pain on the inside of the foot and ankle
- Pain accentuates with activity
- Pain on the outside of the ankle
- Trouble walking
- Heel bone may shift
- Inability to stand on tip toe
Tibialis Posterior Pain Treatment
Studies have shown that in the early stages of tibialis posterior pain that protection, rest, ice, compression and elevation (PRICE) is a suitable method of management. The aim is to minimise haemorrhage, swelling, inflammation and pain, to provide the best conditions for healing to take place.
- Protection – Protect the injured area from further injury – using a support bandage if appropriate
- Rest – Stop the activity that caused the injury, and rest the injured joint or muscle. Avoid activity for the first 48 to 72 hours after injury
- Ice – For the first 48 to 72 hours after the injury, apply a cooling therapy like Physicool cooling bandages
- Compression – Compress or bandage the injured area to limit any swelling and movement that could damage it further
- Elevation – Keep the injured area raised and supported on a pillow to help reduce swelling
If you suspect you have tibialis posterior pain it’s important to speak to your doctor as soon as possible. Effective treatment from medical experts in the early stages can help stop the progress of the condition, but if left unattended not only will the pain limit your ability to enjoy sports and other activities, it will eventually develop into the latter stages of the condition where the foot becomes rigid and possibly deformed. At this stage surgery is often used to try to repair the tendon and the affected tissues and joints.
Some injuries can be self-treated whilst others require prompt medical attention. You should seek advice from a health professional if: the injury causes severe pain, swelling, or numbness; you can't tolerate weight on the area; the pain or dull ache of an old injury is accompanied by increased swelling or joint abnormality or instability.