PTTD is a common condition treated by foot and ankle specialists. Although there is a role for surgical treatment of PTTD, conservative care often can prevent or delay surgical intervention.
Decreasing inflammation and stabilizing the affected joints associated with the posterior tibial tendon
can decrease pain and
increase functional levels. With many different modalities available, aggressive nonoperative methods should be considered in the treatment of PTTD, including early immobilization, the use of
long-term bracing, physical therapy, and anti-inflammatory medications. If these methods fail, proper evaluation and work-up for surgical intervention should be employed.
Flat feet causes greater pressure on the posterior tibial tendon than normal. As the person with flat feet ages, the muscles, tendons and ligaments weaken. Blood supplies diminish as arteries narrow.
These conditions are magnified for obese patients because of their increased weight and atherosclerosis. Finally, the tendon gives out or tears. Most of the time, this is a slow process. Once the
posterior tibial tendon and ligaments stretch, body weight causes the bones of the arch to move out of position. The foot rotates inward (pronation), the heel bone is tilted to the inside, and the
arch appears collapsed. In some cases, the deformity progresses until the foot dislocates outward from the ankle joint.
The symptom most often associated with AAF is PTTD, but it is important to see this only as a single step along a broader continuum. The most important function of the PT tendon is to work in synergy
with the peroneus longus to stabilize the midtarsal joint (MTJ). When the PT muscle contracts and acts concentrically, it inverts the foot, thereby raising the medial arch. When stretched under
tension, acting eccentrically, its function can be seen as a pronation retarder. The integrity of the PT tendon and muscle is crucial to the proper function of the foot, but it is far from the lone
actor in maintaining the arch. There is a vital codependence on a host of other muscles and ligaments that when disrupted leads to an almost predictable loss in foot architecture and subsequent
The diagnosis of tibialis posterior dysfunction is essentially clinical. However, plain radiographs of the foot and ankle are useful for assessing the degree of deformity and to confirm the presence
or absence of degenerative changes in the subtalar and ankle articulations. The radiographs are also useful to exclude other causes of an acquired flatfoot deformity. The most useful radiographs are
bilateral anteroposterior and lateral radiographs of the foot and a mortise (true anteroposterior) view of the ankle. All radiographs should be done with the patient standing. In most cases we see no
role for magnetic resonance imaging or ultrasonography, as the diagnosis can be made clinically.
Non surgical Treatment
Orthotic or anklebrace, Over-the-counter or custom shoe inserts to position the foot and relieve pain are the most common non-surgical treatment option. Custom orthotics are often suggested if the
shape change of the foot is more severe. An ankle brace (either over-the-counter or custom made) is another option that will help to ease tendon tension and pain. Boot immobilization. A walking boot
supports the tendon and allows it to heal. Activity modifications. Depending on what we find, we may recommend limiting high-impact activities, such as running, jumping or court sports, or switching
out high-impact activities for low-impact options for a period of time. Ice and anti-inflammatory medications. These may be given as needed to decrease your symptoms.
A new type of surgery has been developed in which surgeons can re-construct the flat foot deformity and also the deltoid ligament using a tendon called the peroneus longus. A person is able to
function fully without use of the peroneus longus but they can also be taken from deceased donors if needed. The new surgery was performed on four men and one woman. An improved alignment of the
ankle was still evident nine years later, and all had good mobility 8 to 10 years after the surgery. None had developed arthritis.