A tendon transfer is moving a tendon from its normal, anatomic location to another area of the foot or ankle. Tendons typically are transferred in order to restore more normal movement to a foot and ankle that has lost function. A common problem is loss of the ability to raise the foot up, which is called foot drop. This can result from nerve or muscle damage due to stroke, injury, or other diseases. This muscular weakness or paralysis decreases movement and can lead to the foot becoming bent or twisted, making it difficult or painful to stand, walk or wear shoes.

Some tendon transfers allow the ankle and foot to move up and down and regain strength and motion. Others bring the foot into a position where it is easier to walk, stand and wear shoes, but will not increase range of motion. Realigning the foot and ankle can also decrease pain by more evenly distributing pressure across the foot. In some cases, a tendon transfer may eliminate the need for a brace altogether.