posterior tibial tendonitis differential diagnosis

Posterior Tibial Tendonitis Differential Diagnosis

Posterior Tibial Tendonitis Differential Diagnosis


Posterior Tibial Tendonitis is a condition that affects the posterior tibial tendon, which runs along the inside of the ankle and foot. It is characterized by inflammation and irritation of the tendon, leading to pain and discomfort. While the diagnosis of posterior tibial tendonitis is relatively straightforward, it is essential to consider other conditions that may present with similar symptoms. This article will discuss some of the differential diagnosis for posterior tibial tendonitis.


Common Symptoms

The common symptoms of posterior tibial tendonitis include:

  • Pain and tenderness along the inside of the ankle and foot
  • Swelling and redness in the affected area
  • Difficulty walking or standing for prolonged periods
  • Weakness or instability in the ankle

Less Common Symptoms

In some cases, posterior tibial tendonitis may present with less common symptoms, such as:

  • Pain that worsens with activity and improves with rest
  • Arch collapse or flatfoot deformity
  • Numbness or tingling in the foot
  • Pain that radiates up the leg


Physical Examination

During a physical examination, a healthcare professional will assess the affected foot and ankle for signs of posterior tibial tendonitis. They may look for swelling, redness, and tenderness along the tendon. They may also check for any abnormalities in foot structure or movement.

Imaging Tests

Imaging tests, such as X-rays or MRI scans, may be used to confirm the diagnosis of posterior tibial tendonitis. These tests can help visualize the condition of the tendon and rule out other causes of foot and ankle pain.

Other Diagnostic Methods

In some cases, additional diagnostic methods may be employed, such as ultrasound imaging or electromyography (EMG) to assess the function of the affected muscles and nerves.

Posterior Tibial Tendinopathy

Distinction from Tendonitis

Posterior tibial tendinopathy is a broader term that encompasses both tendonitis and other degenerative conditions of the posterior tibial tendon. While tendonitis refers specifically to inflammation of the tendon, tendinopathy includes conditions involving tendon degeneration, such as tears or thickening. Therefore, posterior tibial tendinopathy may present with similar symptoms to tendonitis but may require different treatment approaches.

Plantar Fasciitis

Comparison to Posterior Tibial Tendonitis

Plantar fasciitis is a condition that affects the plantar fascia, a band of tissue that runs along the bottom of the foot. It can cause heel pain and is often associated with overuse or improper foot mechanics. While posterior tibial tendonitis primarily affects the inside of the foot and ankle, plantar fasciitis causes pain in the heel or arch of the foot. Although they have distinct locations of pain, it is possible for individuals to experience both conditions simultaneously.

Achilles Tendinitis

Distinguishing from Posterior Tibial Tendonitis

Achilles tendinitis is the inflammation of the Achilles tendon, which connects the calf muscles to the heel bone. It commonly occurs in athletes who participate in sports that involve repetitive jumping or running. While posterior tibial tendonitis affects the inside of the foot and ankle, Achilles tendinitis causes pain and stiffness in the back of the ankle and calf. Distinguishing between the two conditions can be done through a physical examination and imaging tests.


Types of Arthritis

Arthritis refers to inflammation of one or more joints. There are various types of arthritis that can affect the foot and ankle, including osteoarthritis, rheumatoid arthritis, and gout. These conditions may cause pain, swelling, and stiffness in the affected joints. While there can be overlapping symptoms between arthritis and posterior tibial tendonitis, a comprehensive examination and diagnostic tests can help differentiate between the two.

Relationship to Posterior Tibial Tendonitis

Arthritis can potentially contribute to the development of posterior tibial tendonitis. Inflammatory arthritis, such as rheumatoid arthritis, can lead to increased stress on the tendons and joints, including the posterior tibial tendon. Therefore, it is important to consider the possibility of arthritis when evaluating a patient with posterior tibial tendonitis symptoms.

Tarsal Tunnel Syndrome

Differentiation from Posterior Tibial Tendonitis

Tarsal tunnel syndrome is a condition caused by compression or irritation of the tibial nerve as it passes through a narrow tunnel in the ankle. It can cause pain, numbness, and tingling in the foot. While tarsal tunnel syndrome can sometimes be mistaken for posterior tibial tendonitis, a thorough examination and diagnostic tests, such as nerve conduction studies, can help differentiate between the two conditions.

For more information about foot conditions and their treatment, visit Prepodiatry Clinic 101.

posterior tibial tendonitis differential diagnosis