PTTD is a condition of degeneration and dysfunction in the tendon complex that helps control the medial arch of your foot. Essentially what happens is the complex is unable to do its job of
supporting the arch and supinating the foot, so a progressive flat foot develops (usually called adult acquired flat foot
). Initially pain and often swelling
develops on the inside of the ankle and it will continue to get progressively worse. There are a number of stages of PTTD (3 Stages) and it needs to be aggressively treated early on otherwise a
surgical reconstruction of the arch will invariably be required. PTTD can develop into a very disabling condition if it is not dealt with properly and promptly. As PTTD becomes more advanced, the
arch flattens even more and the pain often shifts to the outside of the foot, below the ankle. Arthritis often develops in the foot and In more severe cases, arthritis may also develop in the
There are a number of theories as to why the tendon becomes inflamed and stops working. It may be related to the poor blood supply within the tendon. Increasing age, inflammatory arthritis, diabetes
and obesity have been found to be causes.
The symptoms of PTTD may include pain, swelling, a flattening of the arch, and an inward rolling of the ankle. As the condition progresses, the symptoms will change. For example, when PTTD initially
develops, there is pain on the inside of the foot and ankle (along the course of the tendon). In addition, the area may be red, warm, and swollen. Later, as the arch begins to flatten, there may
still be pain on the inside of the foot and ankle. But at this point, the foot and toes begin to turn outward and the ankle rolls inward. As PTTD becomes more advanced, the arch flattens even more
and the pain often shifts to the outside of the foot, below the ankle. The tendon has deteriorated considerably and arthritis often develops in the foot. In more severe cases, arthritis may also
develop in the ankle.
In diagnosing flatfoot, the foot & Ankle surgeon examines the foot and observes how it looks when you stand and sit. Weight bearing x-rays are used to determine the severity of the disorder.
Advanced imaging, such as magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) and computed tomography (CAT or CT) scans may be used to assess different ligaments, tendons and joint/cartilage damage. The foot &
Ankle Institute has three extremity MRI?s on site at our Des Plaines, Highland Park, and Lincoln Park locations. These extremity MRI?s only take about 30 minutes for the study and only requires the
patient put their foot into a painless machine avoiding the uncomfortable Claustrophobia that some MRI devices create.
Non surgical Treatment
PTTD is a progressive condition. Early treatment is needed to prevent relentless progression to a more advanced disease which can lead to more problems for that affected foot. In general, the
treatments include rest. Reducing or even stopping activities that worsen the pain is the initial step. Switching to low-impact exercise such as cycling, elliptical trainers, or swimming is helpful.
These activities do not put a large impact load on the foot. Ice. Apply cold packs on the most painful area of the posterior tibial tendon frequently to keep down the swelling. Placing ice over the
tendon immediately after completing an exercise helps to decrease the inflammation around the tendon.
Nonsteroidal Anti-inflammatory Medication (NSAIDS). Drugs, such as arcoxia, voltaren and celebrex help to reduce pain and inflammation. Taking such medications prior to an exercise activity helps to
limit inflammation around the tendon. However, long term use of these drugs can be harmful to you with side effects including peptic ulcer disease and renal impairment or failure. Casting. A short
leg cast or walking boot may be used for 6 to 8 weeks in the acutely painful foot. This allows the tendon to rest and the swelling to go down. However, a cast causes the other muscles of the leg to
atrophy (decrease in strength) and thus is only used if no other conservative treatment works. Most people can be helped with orthotics and braces. An orthotic is a shoe insert. It is the most common
non-surgical treatment for a flatfoot and it is very safe to use. A custom orthotic is required in patients who have moderate to severe changes in the shape of the foot. Physiotherapy helps to
strengthen the injured tendon and it can help patients with mild to moderate disease of the posterior tibial tendon.
The indications for surgery are persistent pain and/or significant deformity. Sometimes the foot just feels weak and the assessment of deformity is best done by a foot and ankle specialist. If
surgery is appropriate, a combination of soft tissue and bony procedures may be considered to correct alignment and support the medial arch, taking strain off failing ligaments. Depending upon the
tissues involved and extent of deformity, the foot and ankle specialist will determine the necessary combination of procedures. Surgical procedures may include a medial slide calcaneal osteotomy to
correct position of the heel, a lateral column lengthening to correct position in the midfoot and a medial cuneiform osteotomy or first metatarsal-tarsal fusion to correct elevation of the medial
forefoot. The posterior tibial tendon may be reconstructed with a tendon transfer. In severe cases (stage III), the reconstruction may include fusion of the hind foot,, resulting in stiffness of the
hind foot but the desired pain relief. In the most severe stage (stage IV), the deltoid ligament on the inside of the ankle fails, resulting in the deformity in the ankle. This deformity over time
can result in arthritis in the ankle.