Many people have begun a vigorous exercise program to start their New Year’s resolution of losing weight and getting in shape. But with this, comes unexpected pain that stops the workout sessions and ultimately prevents them from fulfilling their goal. Most often this is due to “too much, too soon, too fast” syndrome.
Pain along the inside of the ankle that extends to the inside arch is often due to strain of the posterior tibial tendon. The main job of this tendon is to prevent overpronation of the foot and stabilize the arch and ankle. Overuse of this tendon, particularly in people with flat feet, causes the tendon to swell and become painful so that exercise activity is not possible. Ultimately, this type of injury can lead to tear of the tendon and possible surgery. The pain is often sharp, stabbing and radiates along the course of the tendon. Often the entire ankle will be swollen.
Treatment for this begins with rest. This doesn’t mean you have to stop exercising, but no weight bearing exercise until the pain subsides. Ice daily and apply compression to reduce swelling. When pain is gone, then gradual return to an exercise program with appropriate shoes and brace as needed.
A complete lower extremity exam will help determine what types of shoes are best for your workouts and what type of inserts can prevent recurrence of the pain. Often with flat feet, custom orthotics are the best devices that support the ankle and arch and prevent overpronation, thus reducing the likelihood that the pain will return.
If left untreated, posterior tibial tendonitis leads to tear of the tendon (a.k.a. Adult-onset flat foot) and often extensive foot and ankle surgery. It is best to treat this pain as early as possible.