Recognizing Serious Foot Injuries

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Posterior Tibial Tendonitis: Causes, Symptoms And Treatment

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If you've developed ankle pain and difficulty standing or walking, you should see a foot and ankle doctor, also known as a podiatrist. You may have a condition known as posterior tibial tendonitis, which causes pain and inflammation along the tendon of the inner part of your ankle. Muscle and bone is connected to the foot through this tendon, and when the tendon becomes injured, overused or stretched, it can cause discomfort, swelling and stiffness. If you've been diagnosed with posterior tibial tendonitis after an examination and X-ray of your foot, you may find relief through the use of medication, physical therapy exercises, rest of the affected ankle and ice applications.

Understanding the Causes of Posterior Tibial Tendonitis

Several factors may be attributed to ankle tendonitis, such as an acute injury or overuse of the affected foot. Athletes or those who do a lot of standing, walking or running are sometimes prone to this condition. You may also be at risk as you age, or if you are overweight or suffer from high blood pressure, diabetes or osteoarthritis.

Recognizing the Symptoms of Posterior Tibial Tendonitis

Symptoms of ankle tendonitis are fairly easy to recognize. Some of the tell-tale signs are:

  • Pain or discomfort around the ankle: The discomfort is typically limited to the inside of the ankle.

  • Swelling of the ankle: Not every case of ankle swelling is caused by tendonitis, however. Swelling of the ankle could be due to other conditions, such as a sprain or edema (fluid build-up), therefore it's best to receive professional evaluation.

  • Difficulty moving the ankle or bearing weight down on the foot: You may notice this when standing for an extended period of time or when walking.

  • The affected ankle is warm to the touch or there is a burning sensation around the area: This is caused by the inflammation.

If you suspect you have developed ankle tendonitis, it is best to get a professional diagnosis from a foot and ankle specialist. Left untreated, posterior tibial tendonitis may lead to a serious tendon tear that may require surgery. It may also cause a condition known as flat foot, which causes fallen arches.

During your examination, the doctor will take note of the shape of your foot. A protrusion of the heel may indicate collapsed arches and subsequent flat foot. The doctor may also ask you to stretch your foot and toes, or stand on your tiptoes. He or she will look for deformities or inability to flex the muscles, as well as test your range of mobility.

Imaging tests may provide a detailed picture as well. X-rays are often the first test to be conducted. If your doctor suspects a torn tendon, he or she may recommend magnetic resonance imaging, commonly referred to as an MRI. The MRI scan will show soft tissue and tendon damage, including tears. A major tendon tear may require surgery to be repaired.

How Posterior Tibial Tendonitis is Treated

Once you receive a professional diagnosis, you ankle doctor will recommend a treatment plan. If no tears are present, the following measures may help you feel better and heal:

  • Restrict Further Impact: Your first course of action will typically be resting the affected ankle as much as possible. This means no high-impact activities, such as jogging or playing sports. You may also be told to take frequent rest periods at work, especially if your job involves standing for long periods at a time. Elevating the affected ankle may help reduce swelling.

    To facilitate healing and restrict movement of the ankle, your doctor may recommend wearing a walking boot. When worn, it may help protect you from further injury. Your doctor or physical therapist will demonstrate the proper way to wear the boot.

  • The Use of Non-Steroidal Anti-Inflammatory Drugs (NSAIDS): Your doctor may prescribe medication to help reduce the inflammation. You should take the prescribed medication as indicated. If you experience any reaction to the medication, discontinue use and tell your doctor at once. NSAIDS such as ibuprofen or naproxen may not be recommended for individuals with certain medical conditions, such as stomach ulcers or bleeding disorders.

  • Ice Applications: Applying ice on and off for 20 minutes at a time, three of four times times a day, may help reduce swelling and inflammation. Wrap the ice pack in a towel to avoid direct contact with your skin.

  • Physical Therapy: If your ankle doctor prescribes physical therapy, you will be instructed by a licensed physical therapist. You may receive two or three weekly sessions at a facility, where you'll perform foot exercises and gentle stretching. Such exercises are intended to improve range of motion and strengthen the muscles and tendons.


Under your therapist's recommendation, continue these ankle exercises at home. Remember to avoid re-injury by limiting repetitive motion stress on your foot. This may prevent your ankle tendonitis from recurring in the future. Check out sites like for more info.