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'Tibialis posterior' or 'posterior tibial' muscle?

Discussion in 'General Issues and Discussion Forum' started by Craig Payne, Jun 16, 2014.

  1. Craig Payne

    Craig Payne Moderator


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    I have no idea why I did this, but I was watching the final episode of series 3 of Person of Interest (and there is a new season 4 coming for those that like it) .. . and also contemplating something I was writing and it was about the interchangability of the two terms: 'Tibialis posterior' or 'posterior tibial' muscle (I do occasionally multitask)

    Obviously 'Tibialis posterior' is the correct anatomical term, but with me using the term 'posterior tibial tendon dysfunction' so much, I almost always use the term 'posterior tibial' or 'post tib' to describe the muscle these days.

    So what I did was to put to good use that degree I got from Dr Google and used the Google keyword tool to see how often people are searching Google for these two terms. Here are the monthly search volumes for them on Google:

    tibialis posterior 12,100
    posterior tibial 1,600
    tibialis posterior muscle 320
    posterior tibial muscle 90

    ....just thought I would share that useless piece of trivia; now back to doing something more productive :bang:
  2. Rob Kidd

    Rob Kidd Well-Known Member

    Actually Craig, this is not an unimportant issue - and particularly so in Australia with our decided multicultural population. Anatomy as we know was originally a European discipline - Vesaleus and Divinci. Latin and Greek were the original languages of anatomy - and that was fine for Europe; anywhere the Romans went, made a mess and walked away, they left behind a substantial chunk of their languages in the native language (??fenestrations in articular cartilage??). However, this did not apply to Asia, and a huge chunk of our student body is of Asian origin: why should they be discriminated against? For the last 20 or so years there has been a move to de-Latinise anatomy - which is a good thing for all. So we no longer have the profunda brachii, for instance, but the deep artery of the arm. Good!
    Last edited: Jun 16, 2014
  3. W J Liggins

    W J Liggins Well-Known Member

    Hi Rob

    So what's Mandarin for 'Semper in extremis summus'? It's far more poetical than English!



    HUGHESA1 Member

    Heres my 'pennorth on this subject. The way that I have always understood this topic (after being berated by Ivan Birch as a student at UoB) is that "posterior tibial" describes an anotomical area rather than a specific structure i.e posterior tibial artery/vein etc, so therefore any tendon in this area i.e long flexors, could be described as a posterior tibial tendon, however if you wish to be specific then tibilais posterior is the correct title for that particular structure.
    As a pragmatic type, personally, I dont actually care what you call them (George? Bert?) as long as you are able to communicate effectively and accurately, it is not the name but an understanding of what they actually do (or not) that is important, e.g. many practitioners believe that plantaris can apply sufficient plantar flexory force to compensate for a full Achilles tendon rupture (or should that be calcaneal tendon?) when if you actually see the muscle and tendon of plantaris this assumption is ridiculus. This could run and run.
    Last edited: Jun 17, 2014
  5. I like the word "posterior tibial" since this is what I was taught while a podiatry student at CCPM.

    However, as medical professionals, we should be expected to know all the accepted names for anatomical structures/procedures so we can effectively communicate with each other, regardless of the medical background of the person we are communicating with.

    What's correct tire or tyre, windshield or windscreen, trunk or boot, hood or bonnet??

    It's all semantics..as long as the person you are communicating with knows what you are talking about, it really doesn't matter.
  6. PodAc doc

    PodAc doc Member

    But if we count the number of hits when searching for these terms we get a different pattern:

    Craig’s monthly search volumes:
    tibialis posterior 12,100
    posterior tibial 1,600
    tibialis posterior muscle 320
    posterior tibial muscle 90

    Approx no of hits in each search:
    posterior tibial 1,190,000
    tibialis posterior 540,000
    posterior tibial muscle 438,000
    tibialis posterior muscle 298,000

    I wonder what this difference means?
  7. Rob Kidd

    Rob Kidd Well-Known Member

    Not a lot, quite frankly. Word play
  8. W J Liggins

    W J Liggins Well-Known Member

    I agree. Semantics. We all (I think) talk of dorsiflexion at the ankle when the action is clearly extension; the term is analogous to planti-extension which is never (rarely) used but is equally correct/incorrect and probably tied to open/closed kinetic chains. We must await those doyens of academia now lurking in their anatomy labs., to arise and enlighten we rude mechanicals. How about it Rob?


  9. Rob Kidd

    Rob Kidd Well-Known Member

    HI Bill, this whole issue came home to me when one of son's in law was studying neuro anatomy - he is an experimental psychologist and English is not his first language - though now one would not notice. I think I am right in saying that there was a something of a control freak bit to it; the only Latin speakers in the village were the doctor, the priest and the Lord of the Manor (let us not forget that the literal translations of Bachelor, Master and Doctor are respectively worker, overseer(?sp?) and teacher. And another but related issue is which to use: Latin or Greek (best is neither). By way of example, about 25 years ago there was a move away from the Greek "Peroneal" - as in eg common peroneal to the Latin "fibular", as in common fibular. While they do not quite mean the same thing, they are remarkably similar. Fibular means pin, as in a darning needle. Peroneal means "broach clasp", like a safety pin. To emphasise this, my Greek mate assures me that the safety pin in a hand grenade in the Greek army is called a peronei...................... And to add the final stupidity to names, common fibular is the third name for this structure in my professional life; tibial and common fibular were until about 1970 the medial and lateral popliteal nerves. Rant over!
  10. Bill:

    To me, the motion is clearly dorsiflexion, not extension. Extension and flexion of the ankle, to me, is confusing. The terms we use need to be precise and unambiguous if proper communication among learned individuals is the goal. It all depends on how and where you were trained when you learned these terms initially. As long as the individual(s) you are trying to communicate with knows what you are talking about, it really doesn't matter, does it? Words are all just sounds that someone many years ago made up to describe things. There are no right or wrong words, only words that are most commonly used, and less commonly used.
  11. Rob Kidd

    Rob Kidd Well-Known Member

    Kevin, certainly the terms dorsiflexion and plantarflexion have common usage, but the movements are indeed extension and flexion - and of course the long flexor and extensor muscles carry names that reflect this. If one goes back to the embryology and into the realm of comparative anatomy, particularly the fossil record, the upper limb and lower limb are in fact the same. Yet no one would suggest any other than flexion and extension of the wrist. The point in the foot is that it is so highly modified that it has so-called flexure creases on both anterior and posterior surfaces. I agree with you that terminology should be concise - which is presumably why the dorsi & plantar alternatives were adopted in the first place.
  12. drsarbes

    drsarbes Well-Known Member

    A rose by any other name.........

    Personally, I always refer to the Post Tib muscle as Shirley.

  13. wdd

    wdd Well-Known Member

    Now we are geting real.

    Of course the ideal in terminology is to facilitate universal understanding and failing that communication amongst the greatest number.

    Lesson one.


  14. markjohconley

    markjohconley Well-Known Member

    But if we google search for "tibialis posterior muscle" 23,000 results
    v ......................................"posterior tibialis muscle" 6,000 results

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