The posterior tibialis muscle begins deep in your calf. The muscle is connected to the arch of your foot by a tendon that runs along the inside of your ankle, just behind the large bump called the medial malleolus. When you walk, the posterior tibialis muscle lifts the arch of your foot.
Posterior tibial tendon dysfunction is one of the most common foot and ankle problems. The tendon may be damaged from an acute injury, like an accident or fall. More commonly, problems arise from overuse or repeated strain. Ongoing irritation slowly damages the tendon’s fibers and eventually leads to weakening and degeneration. This decreases the tendon’s ability to support your foot when you walk. As the tendon becomes less effective, the arch of your foot is allowed to collapse, which further increases the strain on the muscle and tendon.
The condition is often triggered from overuse and/or training on excessively hard surfaces. Other factors that can contribute to posterior tibial tendon dysfunction include: obesity, diabetes, hypertension, prior surgery or steroid injections.
Symptoms include pain or swelling along the course of the tendon, particularly behind your inner ankle bone. Symptoms often begin following an increase in training intensity or duration. Standing, walking, or running will likely increase your discomfort. Your pain may be aggravated by spending prolonged periods of time on your feet, especially, when standing tiptoe and walking stairs or uneven surfaces.
Early diagnosis and treatment is important to slow progression of the disorder. You may need to temporarily limit weight-bearing activity to allow your tendon to heal. Using a stationary cycle, elliptical machine, or swimming can be good alternatives to walking and running. Your doctor will likely prescribe arch supports or orthotics to help support your foot. You will be given exercises to strengthen the posterior tibialis muscle. These exercises should be performed while wearing shoes with good arch supports. In certain instances, a walking cast or boot may be needed to temporarily protect your foot.
Here is a brief description of the treatments we may use to help manage your problem.
Your chiropractor has found joints in your body that are not moving freely. This can cause tightness and discomfort and can accelerate unwanted degeneration i.e. arthritis. Your chiropractor will apply a gentle force with their hands, or with hand held instruments, in order to restore motion to any “restricted” joints. Sometimes a specialized table will be used to assist with these safe and effective “adjustments”. Joint manipulation improves flexibility, relieves pain and helps maintain healthy joints.
We may apply electrotherapy modalities that produce light electrical pulses transmitted through electrodes placed over your specific sites of concern. These comfortable modalities work to decrease your pain, limit inflammation and ease muscle spasm. Hot or cold packs are often used in conjunction, to enhance the effect of these modalities. Another available option is therapeutic ultrasound. Ultrasound pushes sound vibrations into tissues. When these vibrations reach your deep tissues, heat develops and unwanted waste products are dispersed.
Overworked muscles often become tight and develop knots or “trigger points”. Chronic tightness produces inflammation and swelling that ultimately leads to the formation of “adhesions” between tissues. Your chiropractor will apply pressure with their hands, or with specialized tools, in order to release muscle tightness and soft-tissue adhesions. This will help to improve your circulation, relieve pain and restore flexibility.
Muscle tightness or weakness causes discomfort and alters normal joint function, leading to additional problems. Your chiropractor will target tight or weak muscles with specific therapeutic stretching and strengthening to help increase tissue flexibility, build strength, and ease pain. Healthy, strong, and flexible muscles may help prevent re-injury.
Elastic Therapeutic Tape
Your chiropractor may apply a special elastic therapeutic tape in order to support injured areas or encourage better movement. This tape is thought to decrease pain and swelling, improve circulation and limit muscle soreness.
Fallen arches and faulty foot mechanics are common problems that can perpetuate your condition. Our office will carefully evaluate your feet and consider the need for a change in shoe style, arch supports or even custom orthotics.
Our office may recommend using a support brace to protect your ankle from further injury. Your doctor will discuss the specific type of brace and provide instructions for use.
After this initial course of treatment we will reassess your progress. We will determine the need for any additional care after your reassessment.
Your mattress and the position you sleep in may affect your condition.
✓ Choose a mattress that provides medium or firm support, such as a traditional coil spring or adjustable airbed. Avoid waterbeds, thick pillow tops and soft, sagging mattresses.
✓ Always sleep on your back with a pillow either underneath your knees or on your side with a pillow between your knees. Avoid sleeping on your stomach.
✓ Keep your neck and back covered while sleeping to avoid drafts that could cause potential muscle spasms.
The acronym RICE can help you remember what to do after a new injury:
✓ Rest – Limit stress to the injured area for at least the first 48 hours.
✓ Ice – Apply for 10-15 minutes. Break for 30 minutes. Reapply. (Alternatives to the ice pack include Ziploc bags filled with ice, or a bag of frozen vegetables.)
✓ Compression – Wrap the injured area with an elastic ACE bandage if possible.
✓ Elevation – Elevate the injured area to limit swelling.
To avoid extra stress on your spine while standing:
✓ Avoid high-heeled shoes or boots
✓ Use a footrest
✓ If excessive standing can’t be avoided, consider shock absorbent shoes or an anti-fatigue mat.
Improperly supported feet can affect the alignment of all of the structures above. To improve your overall comfort:
✓ Choose shoes with good arch support.
✓ Avoid going barefoot or wearing shoes that lack support (i.e. flip-flops). The following brands of sandals provide better than average arch support: Naot, Fit Flops, Orthoheels, Abeo, Vionic and Yellow box.
✓ Avoid high-heeled shoes or boots (keep heels to a maximum of 1½ inches, especially if you are going to be doing a lot of walking).
✓ “Cross-trainer” athletic shoes tend to provide the best all around support and shock absorption for daily activities.
✓ Patients with fallen arches should consider adding arch supports or orthotics.
✓ Repair or replace shoes with worn soles or heels.
Running shoes need to be replaced every 250 miles. There are three basic options:
✓ Motion Control Shoes – Designed for people with low or no arches, these shoes are for runners who strike the ground on the outer edge of their foot. Avoid overly stiff shoes as these decrease you perception of ground strike and lead to new injuries.
✓ Stability or Neutral Shoes – Designed for people with normal or average arches and running mechanics. The shoe contains some cushioning to absorb shock and prevent injuries and some rigidity to avoid pronation.
✓ Cushioned Shoes – Designed for people with high arched feet. Their footprint will typically leave a thin band along the foot’s edge. As they run weight is distributed from heel strike to the outer edge of the foot and small toes that bear the brunt of “lift off.” This shoe is more flexible and absorbs the shock created by the lack or rotation (under-pronation) created by their running style.