Tarsal Tunnel Syndrome


Tarsal Tunnel Syndrome


What is Tarsal Tunnel Syndrome?

Tarsal tunnel syndrome is a compression, or squeezing, on the posterior tibial nerve that produces symptoms anywhere along the path of the nerve running from the inside of the ankle into the foot.

Tarsal tunnel syndrome is similar to carpal tunnel syndrome, which occurs in the wrist. Both disorders arise from the compression of a nerve in a confined space.

What causes it?

Tarsal tunnel syndrome is caused by anything that produces compression on the posterior tibial nerve, such as:

  • A person with flat feet is at risk for developing tarsal tunnel syndrome, because the      outward tilting of the heel that occurs can produce strain and compression on the nerve.
  • An enlarged or abnormal structure that occupies space within the tunnel can compress the nerve. Some examples include a varicose vein, ganglion cyst, swollen tendon, and arthritic bone spur.
  • An injury, such as an ankle sprain, may produce inflammation and swelling in or near the      tunnel, resulting in compression of the nerve.

What will happen if I leave it untreated?

If left untreated the condition can progress and in some cases it may result in permanent nerve damage.

What can help?

There are a variety of treatment options which can help to treat Tarsal Tunnel Syndrome:

  • Rest and Ice. Staying off the foot prevents further injury and encourages healing. Applying an ice pack wrapped in a towel to the affected area can help to ease the pain.
  • Oral medications. Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), such as ibuprofen, help reduce the pain and inflammation.

What are the treatment options?

Custom shoe inserts may be prescribed to help maintain the arch and limit excessive motion that can cause compression of the nerve

Your Podiatrist may also recommend strengthening and stretching exercises once the pain has subsided.

A  corticosteroid injection  may be considered if conservative treatments have failed to improve the symptoms. Surgery may be considered as a final resort.