Tarsal Tunnel Syndrome

Tarsal Tunnel Syndrome

What is Tarsal Tunnel Syndrome?

Compression of the tibial nerve leads to tarsal tunnel syndrome. This is a form of peripheral neuropathy that occurs as a result of compression to the tibial nerve.

The tibial nerve, which passes through the ankle, is responsible for feeling and movement to some parts of the foot. Injury to the tibial nerve causes tarsal tunnel syndrome, which can result in tingling, weakness, numbness, and muscle damage in the bottom of the foot.

What Are the Causes of Tarsal Tunnel Syndrome?

Causes of tarsal tunnel syndrome affect the tibial nerve. This can occur due to pressure placed on the tibial nerve from:

  • swelling from an ankle sprain or nearby tendon injury
  • bone spurs or cysts
  • flat feet
  • high arches
  • diabetes
  • arthritis
  • poorly fitted shoes
  • trauma to the feet or ankle
  • foot deformities

What Are the Common Symptoms of Tarsal Tunnel Syndrome?

Symptoms of tarsal tunnel syndrome include:

  • numbness on the plantar side of the foot
  • sharp, shooting pain
  • tingling
  • burning sensation
  • swelling and inflammation by the ankle
  • pain worsening with physical activity such as walking or even just bearing weight on the foot
  • weakened muscles

What to Expect During Treatment for Tarsal Tunnel Syndrome at the Podiatrist

A proper foot exam, along with an evaluation of your daily lifestyle and complete medical history, is key to diagnosing tarsal tunnel syndrome. Your podiatrist may also evaluate your gait to determine whether you have any foot disorders that may be causing tarsal tunnel syndrome. Patients with diabetes, arthritis, or poor blood circulation are also more at risk of developing tarsal tunnel syndrome, and regular foot checkups are key to preventing and worsening of symptoms.

Treatment for tarsal tunnel syndrome may include:

  • rest
  • use of a temporary cast to allow inflamed tissues and tendons to heal
  • cortisone injections to relieve pain and swelling
  • custom-fitted orthotics
  • NSAIDs
  • surgery—mainly for patients with severe tarsal tunnel syndrome and excessive muscle weakness in their foot

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