A posterior tibial tendon rupture is a tear of the posterior tibial tendon. This particular tendon connects the calf muscle to the bones on the inside of the foot. The posterior tibial tendon normally functions to provide stability and support near the arch of the foot. Individuals with a tear in this tendon will often experience flat feet.
A ruptured tendon is caused by traumatic injury. The injury may be caused by one severe, damaging motion, such as a fall, or by repetitive stress causing gradual tearing, such as long-term involvement in sports that place excess stress on the tendon. As the tendon becomes irritated and tears, the arch of the foot will collapse. Posterior tibial tendon rupture occurs more frequently in women than in men, and more often in individuals over the age of 40. Other risk factors include being overweight, having diabetes, or having high blood pressure.
Individuals with a damaged posterior tibial tendon may notice the injury immediately, or may begin to notice more subtle signs of damage over time. Swelling of the foot and ankle, changes in the shape of the foot, abnormal motion tests, and abnormal flexibility tests may be signs of the tendon tearing. Doctors will use medical imaging to look at the bone and muscle structure in the foot in order to diagnose the condition
Treatment for posterior tibial tendon ruptures depends on the severity of the injury. Rest, ice and devices, such as casts or braces, may help promote healing. Medication such as anti-inflammatories and steroids may be used for pain relief during treatment. In some cases, surgery may be indicated to decrease the severity of the flatfoot and pain and increase range of motion. However, recovery from surgery may take up to 12 months and often includes physical therapy to strengthen the tendon. If you or your child has ruptured the posterior tibial tendon, talk to your doctor about the most current treatment options.