Posterior tibial tendon dysfunction is one of several terms to describe a painful, progressive flatfoot deformity in adults. Other terms include posterior tibial tendon insufficiency and adult acquired flatfoot. The term adult acquired flatfoot is more appropriate because it allows a broader recognition of causative factors, not only limited to the posterior tibial tendon, an event where the posterior tibial tendon looses strength and function. The adult acquired flatfoot is a progressive, symptomatic (painful) deformity resulting from gradual stretch (attenuation) of the tibialis posterior tendon as well as the ligaments that support the arch of the foot.
Flatfoot can have many different causes. It could be a weakness or a structural abnormality you?ve had since birth. It could also mean that tendonitis, damage to the connective tissues, arthritis, or nerve problems have affected the structures in your feet. Even wearing unsupportive footwear can lead to weakness and arch pain. Whatever the cause, many conservative, noninvasive treatments exist to help relieve and eliminate your discomfort.
Pain and tenderness associated with plantar fascia strains are usually felt on the bottom of the foot and may manifest either as a specific or general area of tenderness. Plantar fascia pain may be increased or decreased by stretching of the arch. Generally, in mild cases of plantar fasciitis, the pain will decrease as the soft tissues of the foot "warm up"; however, pain may increase as use of the foot increases. In more severe cases of plantar fasciitis, pain may increase when the arch is stressed. A more specific pain (point tenderness) is an indicator that something is wrong in that specific area. Pain with movement of the affected area is also an indicator of the particular body part affected.
The medical practitioner will examine how the muscles of your foot function. These tests may involve holding or moving your foot and ankle against resistance; you may also asked to stand, walk, or even run. Pain caused by movements may indicate the cause of the pain. The nerves in the foot will be tested to make sure no injury has occurred there. An x-ray, MRI, or bone scan of the foot and arch may be taken to determine if there are changes in the makeup of the bone.
Non Surgical Treatment
Depending on your overall health, symptoms and severity of the the flat foot, the condition may be treated conservatively and/or with surgery. Non-surgical treatments for flat feet are centered at decreasing and/or resolving the symptoms (pain). Simple Treatments Patients Can do themselves include wear proper supportive shoes. Use an arch support. Wear shoes with a wide toe box. Modify your activities. Lose weight. Wear shoes with cushion. Non-surgical treatments a doctor might do include Prescribe an oral anti-inflammatory medication. Anti-inflammatory medication is useful to significantly reduce pain and inflammation. Prescribe physical therapy. A physical therapist may perform ultrasound and other techniques to reduce inflammation. You will also be instructed how to stretch your foot and leg properly. Keeping the joint mobile may preserve function. Strengthening weak foot and leg musculature can help prevent further collapse. Prescribe protective pads. Padding and/or cushioning of when areas of bone become prominent on the bottom of the foot, as an effective method of preventing mechanical irritation with shoes. Pads with cutouts may off-weight specific areas of concern. Prescribe custom foot orthotics. A custom foot orthotic is a doctor prescribed arch support that is made directly from a casting (mold) of your feet, and theoretically should provide superior support compared to shoe insert that you would purchase from a pharmacy. In the case of flat feet, specific modifications can be made to the orthotic device to strategically balance the foot. Prescribe custom ankle-foot orthoses. A custom ankle-foot orthotic (AFO) is a doctor prescribed molded arch and lower leg support that stabilizes both the foot and ankle. This is used when the flat foot is significant and provides more support than the simple foot only insert. Give cortisone injection. A articular cortisone injection is a powerful anti-inflammatory medication that is used to rapidly reduce the pain associated with inflammation. Cortisone shots can be extremely effective in alleviating symptoms of flat feet, but will not correct the structure.
With flat feet, there is a tendon on the inside of the foot than can often become weakened, injured, split and/or ruptured. This tendon, is called the posterior tibial tendon, and is the main arch supporting tendon. Obviously damage to this tendon can cause collapse of the arch. Some people have genetically inefficient tendon, and tends to be the case in younger people. In mild cases, such as tendon splits, the posterior tibial tendon can be repaired to restore its strength. Acute incontinuity of the tendon can be primarily repaired. Often the posterior tibial tendon is augmented with a tendon transfer of an adjacent tendon to provide both strength and continuity. In any tendon repair, advanced or retensioning of the tendon is performed. In most flat foot surgery a tendon augmentation is often combined with other boney procedures to restore structure and balance to the foot.
People who run regularly should replace shoes every six months, more frequently if an avid runner. Avoid running or stepping on uneven surfaces. Try to be careful on rocky terrain or hills with loose gravel. Holes, tree stumps and roots are problems if you are trail running. If you have problems with the lower legs, a dirt road is softer than asphalt, which is softer than concrete. Try to pick a good surface if possible. However, if you're racing, be sure to train on the surface you'll eventually run on. Be careful running too many hills. Running uphill is a great workout, but make sure you gradually build this up to avoid injuries. Be careful when running downhill too fast, which can often lead to more injuries than running uphills. Prevent recurrent injuries. Athletes who have experienced ankle injuries previously may benefit from using a brace or tape to prevent recurrent ankle injuries.
People with flexible feet who develop fallen arches may benefit from foot strengthening exercises, notes the Nicholas Institute of Sports Medicine and Athletic Trauma. Standing on a towel in bare feet and grasping the material with the toes is an easy foot-strengthening exercise that can be done at home. Standing on one leg while arching and releasing the foot may also prove useful. Doctors may prescribe gentle stretching exercises for the foot and ankle tendons.