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How Do I Treat a Tibialis Anterior Injury?

Injuring the tibialis anterior makes it difficult to move the foot up and down, and tough to stand on the toes.
Elevating the lower leg and resting the foot can help the tibialis anterior muscle heal.
The tibialis anterior muscle connects to the tibia just below the knee.
For a severe tibialis anterior injury, crutches should be used to keep weight off the injured leg.
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  • Written By: K. Willis
  • Edited By: A. Joseph
  • Last Modified Date: 02 October 2014
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The tibialis anterior is a muscle situated on the front of your shin, and it primarily is responsible for ankle dorsiflexion, which is the up-and-down motion of your foot. The tibialis anterior muscle works in balance with the tibialis anterior tendon, which lies below the muscle near the ankle. An injury to this area can reduce flexibility and induce a great deal of pain until the injury is healed. Treatment usually involves complete rest from any activity that causes discomfort, the use of anti-inflammatory medication and ice therapy and possibly a course of physiotherapy, depending on the severity of your injury.

The most common tibialis anterior injury is tibialis anterior tendinitis. This injury occurs when large amounts of stress occur in the leg muscle, which overloads the capacity of the tendon. It usually is caused by strenuous physical activity, such as playing sports or running on hills or hard, uneven surfaces. You also might incur this injury with excessive tightening of strapping or shoe lacing, which can result in repeated rubbing and constriction of the tendon.

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If you have incurred a tibialis anterior injury, you will experience gradually worsening pain. Pain usually occurs with any aggravating or strenuous activity, or after a period of rest following such an activity, frequently the morning after. Kneeling down or pointing your toes also might cause pain. To reduce pain and inflammation, you can take anti-inflammatory medication. If you are taking any other medication, if you suffer from any other condition, if you are pregnant or are breastfeeding, you should seek the advice of a health professional before taking any anti-inflammatory medication.

Following a regimen of rest, ice, compression and elevation, commonly known as RICE, can reduce pain and inflammation and might help to increase the rate of healing. Rest includes refraining from any activity that causes further pain. In cases of severe injury, rest can include the aid of crutches so that you minimize the use of the leg in which you sustained the tibialis anterior injury.

Crushed ice or ice packs wrapped in a cloth should be applied to the injury for 20 minutes every two to three hours for the first 48 hours or when swelling occurs, especially in the morning. You should consider applying a pressure bandage to your ankle to minimize further swelling, but the bandage should be removed immediately if you notice any color change in the foot or you experience a numbing or pins and needles sensation, because this indicates that the bandage is too tight and might be restricting your circulation. To further reduce swelling, you can elevate your foot, preferably above the level of your heart while resting. For example, you can use extra pillows to raise your foot while you are in bed.

If you experience severe, prolonged pain or see no improvement in your injury after one to two weeks, it might be advisable to seek the advice of a physiotherapist. A physiotherapist can provide you with exercises to aid the healing of your leg muscle, such as stretches, lunges and ankle flexes. Your course of physiotherapy also will help to strengthen your ankle and might teach you how to minimize the risk of further or repeated injury. You should never ignore a suspected tibialis anterior injury, because this can result in a severe worsening of the injury with further complications and more time required for healing and recuperation.

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Discuss this Article

anon969836
Post 4

I don't see a date on your posts but, having torn both of mine at different times, I hope you have already seen a doctor. Your symptoms sound very much like mine.

anon961688
Post 3

My tibilias anterior is quite sore and swollen. The muscle itself hurts but also the tibia bone hurts. I am afraid that I may have broken the bone but I am not sure.

I am able to walk and put minimal pressure on my leg but too much pressure brings lots of discomfort. I can lift my foot and point it out gingerly. The tibilias anterior muscle feels quite tight on my injured leg but is looser on my healthy leg. I have noticed that after I walk and move my injured leg, it feels much better and I can put more pressure on it.

Do you think I broke anything or is it just a deep muscle injury? Should I go to the ER and get this checked out?

anon335015
Post 2

I am probably suffering from some kind of tibialis anterior injury. Why am I saying 'probably'? Because I cannot feel any pain around in that area, however I am unable to dorsi-flex my right ankle. My left foot (which is working properly) can hold on the top of my toes around 25 kilograms without any problem. On the contrast my right ankle can hold not even 2.5 kilograms on the top of my toes. I have had this problem for more than one month now and I still seem to have no progress going on in terms of strengthening that muscle.

I haven't been training my legs before and I am not aware of doing anything that could trigger this problem. Anyway, because I don't feel any pain in it I suggest there could be problem somewhere else, however I am not an expert and therefore I ask for some help. From my point of view, it seems feels like the muscle is from all of a sudden rapidly weakened.

I am afraid if I haven't by some accident manage to strangle some part of the working muscle or tendons in it. Is it possible? Thanks for the reply anyone.

anon330050
Post 1

Rest is a good suggestion, and massage too. but definitely not ice or anti inflammatory pills. There is no evidence (in fact this is a myth) that icing and inflammatory pills help healing.

I understand from many Chinese bone/ligament/tendon herbalists that, the Chinese use massage, chi gong and herbal wraps to facilitate blood flow in the area to expedite healing. Never use ice or anti inflammatories, which the Chinese believe obstruct healing.

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