Tibialis anterior tendinopathy causes pain, stiffness or weakness at the front of your ankle, particularly when pointing your toes up towards the sky.
Your tibialis anterior is a large muscle at the front of your shin bone. Like all muscles, while the ‘belly’ of the muscle is located at the front of the shins, it has a tendon (a thick connective tissue) that runs down along the front of the ankle and attaches to the inner side of the foot.
The main action of the tibialis anterior is to help us bend our foot at the ankle to point our toes towards the sky, which is essential for walking as we need to lift our foot and toes up to clear the ground so that we don’t trip over. It also helps our foot and arch to lower down carefully when we walk instead of slapping hard against the ground.
When the tendon at the front of the ankle is damaged, this is what our podiatrists call tibialis anterior tendinopathy. You may also see the term tibialis anterior “tendonitis”, which simply denotes that some inflammation is present with your injury, though “tendinopathy” is more commonly used to describe all stages of the injury process, as pain tends to linger even after the inflammation has settled.
Common symptoms of tibialis anterior tendinopathy may include one:
Tibialis anterior tendinopathy is typically caused by overuse - meaning that the tendon is strained and stressed past the point that it can safely handle, and damage occurs. We see this happening from:
If you’re experiencing pain and weakness on the front of your shins, ankle or on the inside of your midfoot, start by limiting the sporting or physical activities that bring on your symptoms, if you’re regularly engaging in any. We want to try to reduce the risk of any further damage to the tendon, as this may worsen your injury, exacerbate your pain and symptoms, and lead to a long recovery time. You can try managing the pain at home by:
If your pain is only very mild, you may try some stretching and strengthening exercises to help strengthen the tendon and muscle, particularly resisted eccentric inversion exercises. These can help if muscle and tendon weakness is one of the contributing factors to your injury, so the strength can gradually increase so you can return to normal training without pain or injury recurrence.
Here at Matt Raden Podiatry, our trusted and experienced podiatrists listen to the concerns, goals and needs of our patients with tibialis anterior tendinopathy, and utilise a range of evidence-based treatment methods to help you get the best outcome. Our goal is not only to make you comfortable now, but to understand the root of the problem so you can exercise and stay active without being held back by foot pain.
Every appointment starts with a comprehensive assessment to uncover the causes of your foot pain, which includes analysing your gait, testing for muscle imbalances, assessing joint stiffness or tightness, analysing your foot posture and alignment, and more. We’ll then create a tailored treatment plan based on the results. This may include:
In very few cases, where the nature of your injury means that you have not been able to achieve the results we expect and your symptoms are continuing to interfere with your daily function and quality of life, we may refer you to an orthopaedic surgeon for a consultation.
If you’re experiencing pain at the back of the lower leg or in the foot, our team is here to help - and to ensure you have the best experience doing so. We’re proud to go above and beyond for our patients, focusing not only on managing your pain and symptoms, but helping you get the best long-term outcomes.