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.
Obesity - Overtime if your body is carrying those extra pounds, you can potentially injure your feet. The extra weight puts pressure on the ligaments that support your feet. Also being over weight
can lead to type two diabetes which also can attribute to AAFD. Diabetes - Diabetes can also play a role in Adult Acquired Flatfoot Deformity. Diabetes can cause damage to ligaments, which support
your feet and other bones in your body. In addition to damaged ligaments, uncontrolled diabetes can lead to ulcers on your feet. When the arches fall in the feet, the front of the foot is wider, and
outer aspects of the foot can start to rub in your shoe wear. Patients with uncontrolled diabetes may not notice or have symptoms of pain due to nerve damage. Diabetic patient don?t see they have a
problem, and other complications occur in the feet such as ulcers and wounds. Hypertension - High blood pressure cause arteries narrow overtime, which could decrease blood flow to ligaments. The
blood flow to the ligaments is what keeps the foot arches healthy, and supportive. Arthritis - Arthritis can form in an old injury overtime this can lead to flatfeet as well. Arthritis is painful as
well which contributes to the increased pain of AAFD. Injury - Injuries are a common reason as well for AAFD. Stress from impact sports. Ligament damage from injury can cause the bones of the foot to
fallout of ailment. Overtime the ligaments will tear and result in complete flattening of feet.
Symptoms shift around a bit, depending on what stage of PTTD you?re in. For instance, you?re likely to start off with tendonitis, or inflammation of the posterior tibial tendon. This will make the
area around the inside of your ankle and possibly into your arch swollen, reddened, warm to the touch, and painful. Inflammation may actually last throughout the stages of PTTD. The ankle will also
begin to roll towards the inside of the foot (pronate), your heel may tilt, and you may experience some pain in your leg (e.g. shin splints). As the condition progresses, the toes and foot begin to
turn outward, so that when you look at your foot from the back (or have a friend look for you, because-hey-that can be kind of a difficult
maneuver to pull off) more toes than usual will be visible on the outside (i.e. the side with the pinky toe). At this stage, the foot?s still going to be flexible, although it will likely have
flattened somewhat due to the lack of support from the posterior tibial tendon. You may also find it difficult to stand on your toes. Finally, you may reach a stage in which your feet are inflexibly
flat. At this point, you may experience pain below your ankle on the outside of your foot, and you might even develop arthritis in the ankle.
The history and physical examination are probably the most important tools the physician uses to diagnose this problem. The wear pattern on your shoes can offer some helpful clues. Muscle testing
helps identify any areas of weakness or muscle impairment. This should be done in both the weight bearing and nonweight bearing positions. A very effective test is the single heel raise. You will be
asked to stand on one foot and rise up on your toes. You should be able to lift your heel off the ground easily while keeping the calcaneus (heel bone) in the middle with slight inversion (turned
inward). X-rays are often used to study the position, shape, and alignment of the bones in the feet and ankles. Magnetic resonance (MR) imaging is the imaging modality of choice for evaluating the
posterior tibial tendon and spring ligament complex.
Non surgical Treatment
A patient who has acute tenosynovitis has pain and swelling along the medial aspect of the ankle. The patient is able to perform a single-limb heel-rise test but has pain when doing so. Inversion of
the foot against resistance is painful but still strong. The patient should be managed with rest, the administration of appropriate anti-inflammatory medication, and immobilization. The injection of
corticosteroids is not recommended. Immobilization with either a rigid below-the-knee cast or a removable cast or boot may be used to prevent overuse and subsequent rupture of the tendon. A removable
stirrup-brace is not initially sufficient as it does not limit motion in the sagittal plane, a component of the pathological process. The patient should be permitted to walk while wearing the cast or
boot during the six to eight-week period of immobilization. At the end of that time, a decision must be made regarding the need for additional treatment. If there has been marked improvement, the
patient may begin wearing a stiff-soled shoe with a medial heel-and-sole wedge to invert the hindfoot. If there has been only mild or moderate improvement, a longer period in the cast or boot may be
Until recently, operative treatment was indicated for most patients with stage 2 deformities. However, with the use of potentially effective nonoperative management , operative treatment is now
indicated for those patients that have failed nonoperative management. The principles of operative treatment of stage 2 deformities include transferring another tendon to help serve the role of the
dysfunctional posterior tibial tendon (usually the flexor hallucis longus is transferred). Restoring the shape and alignment of the foot. This moves the weight bearing axis back to the center of the
ankle. Changing the shape of the foot can be achieved by one or more of the following procedures. Cutting the heel bone and shifting it to the inside (Medializing calcaneal osteotomy). Lateral column
lengthening restores the arch and overall alignment of the foot. Medial column stabilization. This stiffens the ray of the big toe to better support the arch. Lengthening of the Achilles tendon or
Gastrocnemius. This will allow the ankle to move adequately once the alignment of the foot is corrected. Stage 3 acquired adult flatfoot deformity is treated operatively with a hindfoot fusion
(arthrodesis). This is done with either a double or triple arthrodesis - fusion of two or three of the joints in hindfoot through which the deformity occurs. It is important when a hindfoot
arthrodesis is performed that it be done in such a way that the underlying foot deformity is corrected first. Simply fusing the hindfoot joints in place is no longer acceptable.