Tarsal tunnel syndrome is a condition in which there is a compression of the posterior tibial nerve. The posterior tibial nerve runs along the inside of the ankle into the foot. Tarsal tunnel syndrome is named for the tarsal tunnel, which is a thin space along the inside of the ankle beside the ankle bones. This space contains various nerves, arteries, and tendons, and includes the posterior tibial nerve. The tibial nerve is the peripheral nerve in the leg responsible for sensation and movement of the foot and calf muscles. In tarsal tunnel syndrome the tibial nerve is compressed, causing tingling, or burning, numbness, and pain.
1. What causes tarsal tunnel syndrome?
Common causes involve pressure or an injury. Injuries that produce inflammation and swelling in or around the tunnel may place pressure on the posterior tibial nerve. Direct pressure on the tibial nerve for an extended period, sometimes caused by other body structures close by or trauma to the tibial nerve, can result in tarsal tunnel syndrome.
Diseases that damage nerves, such as diabetes or arthritis, may cause tarsal tunnel syndrome. Those with flat feet are at risk for developing the condition, as the extra pressure and strain placed on the foot may compress the posterior tibial nerve.
2. What are the symptoms?
Feeling different sensations in the foot at different times is a common symptom of tarsal tunnel syndrome. An afflicted person may experience pain, tingling, burning or other unusual sensations in the foot or on the inside of the ankle of the affected leg. The pain can also affect the toes.
3. How is it diagnosed?
A doctor can diagnose tarsal tunnel syndrome through a physical examination and a review of the patient’s medical history. To diagnose, your podiatrist may examine the foot and tap the posterior tibial nerve to see if symptoms surface. The doctor may also order imaging tests such as an MRI or X-rays to rule out other conditions.
4. What are the treatment options?
Treating tarsal tunnel syndrome will depend on the decision of your podiatrist as well as the underlying condition of the syndrome. Multiple options are available, however, and can include rest, ice, immobilization, oral medications such as anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDS), physical therapy, injection therapy, orthotics, supportive shoes, braces, and surgery.
5. Can it be prevented?
There is no surefire way to prevent tarsal tunnel syndrome, but wearing supportive shoes, maintaining a healthy weight, and avoiding repetitive foot motions can help reduce the risk of developing the condition.
6. When should I seek medical attention for tarsal tunnel syndrome?
If you experience any of the symptoms associated with tarsal tunnel syndrome, it’s important to seek medical attention right away. Early intervention can help prevent complications and ensure a faster, more complete recovery.
In conclusion, tarsal tunnel syndrome is a condition that affects the foot and can cause discomfort and pain. If you are experiencing any symptoms, contact Bayshore Podiatry today at 813-877-6636 for a proper diagnosis. By properly managing your symptoms and taking the necessary steps to prevent future issues, you can continue to live an active and pain-free lifestyle.