Tarsal Tunnel Syndrome

Updated on 27 April 2023

Tarsal Tunnel Syndrome

A painful compression of the tibial nerve is what characterizes a tarsal tunnel syndrome.

The tibial nerve extends from the back of the calf to the heel and sole of the foot and is encased in the tarsal tunnel, a fibrous canal.

When the tissues around this canal become inflamed, they might expand and compress it, causing the tarsal tunnel syndrome pain.

Let’s take a look at the signs and symptoms of this foot problem, as well as the remedies available.

What is Tarsal Tunnel Syndrome?

Have you ever wondered, “Why are my feet tingling?” You could have tarsal tunnel syndrome, a condition characterized by the compression of the tibial nerve, which runs from the back of the calf to the heel and the sole of the foot. This compression occurs within a fibrous tunnel called the tarsal tunnel. Inflammation and swelling of the tissues near the tarsal tunnel can lead to the characteristic pain associated with this syndrome. The pain can vary from mild to severe and may manifest as a burning or tingling sensation, particularly during walking or other weight-bearing activities.

Is it a common problem?

It is a relatively common foot problem, affecting people of all ages and activity levels. However, certain factors can increase one’s risk of developing the condition, such as specific foot structures or occupations that require prolonged standing.

Different Causes of Tarsal Tunnel Syndrome

Several factors can contribute to the development of this syndrome, making it a multifaceted condition that requires a thorough understanding of its potential causes. Here are some common causes.

Flat feet can place increased strain on the tibial nerve. Foot fractures and ankle swelling due to heart or kidney failure may also lead to inflammation and nerve compression. Ankle swelling due to heart or kidney failure and hypothyroidism can cause extra pressure. Arthritis contributes to joint inflammation and potential nerve irritation. Poor posture affects the alignment of the foot and ankle. Excessive pronation during stride places undue stress on this body part. Inflamed tendons inside the ankle cause compression of the nerve. Wearing ill-fitting shoes that do not provide adequate support or accommodate the foot’s dimensions can also be problematic.

By identifying and addressing these contributing factors, individuals can work towards mitigating their risk of developing tarsal tunnel syndrome and maintaining optimal foot health.

Who is most at risk for developing tarsal tunnel syndrome?

Individuals with flat feet or foot deformities, those who engage in high-impact activities, and people who spend long hours on their feet are at a higher risk for developing tarsal tunnel syndrome. Additionally, those with medical conditions affecting the nerves or blood vessels in the legs and feet may be more susceptible.

Symptoms of Tarsal Tunnel Syndrome

The most common symptoms of this syndrome include pain on the inner side of the ankle, a discomfort that improves with rest, tingling or burning sensations in the foot, stiffness in the foot structures, pain that may radiate up to the knee, and nighttime cramps in the foot and calf.

Conditions with similar symptoms

Tarsal tunnel syndrome can present symptoms similar to other foot problems, such as plantar fasciitis, posterior tibial muscle dysfunction syndrome, Baxter’s neuritis, peripheral neuropathy caused by diabetic foot, and partial or total obstruction of blood vessels in the legs and feet.

 Diagnosing Tarsal Tunnel Syndrome by Chiropodists

A chiropodist can help diagnose tarsal tunnel syndrome by performing various tests. A foot ultrasound can identify the extent of soft tissue damage. Nerve conduction studies will detect nerve conduction problems and confirm the diagnosis. Biomechanical examinations help visually inspect the foot and assess its function. Digital foot X-rays allow looking for bone deformities that could cause or worsen the syndrome.

 Treatment Options Offered by Chiropodists for Tarsal Tunnel Syndrome

Once the diagnosis is confirmed, the chiropodist may suggest a treatment plan depending on the severity of the situation. Treatment options include cortisone injections in the painful area, prescription of custom foot orthotics or orthopedic shoes, therapeutic bandaging to relieve the foot, and prescription anti-inflammatory medications. In severe cases, orthopedic surgery may be necessary to reduce nerve compression and alleviate foot pain.

What is the recovery time?

The recovery time can vary greatly depending on the severity of the condition and the chosen treatment method. Recovery can range from a few weeks to several months, with more invasive treatments typically requiring longer recovery periods.

Are there any contraindications to different treatments?

Some treatments for tarsal tunnel syndrome may have contraindications or associated risks. For example, cortisone injections may not be suitable for individuals with certain medical conditions or allergies, and surgery carries inherent risks such as infection, nerve damage, or complications with anesthesia. It’s essential to discuss potential risks and contraindications with your chiropodist before undergoing any treatment.

Prevention Methods for Tarsal Tunnel Syndrome

While early detection of tarsal tunnel syndrome is crucial for effective treatment, implementing prevention strategies can reduce the chances of developing symptoms in the first place.

Some ways to prevent the condition include regularly engaging in low-impact activities or sports and maintaining a healthy weight. Allowing sufficient rest for the lower limbs is essential, as is wearing properly fitting shoes that accommodate the foot’s dimensions without being too tight. Reducing time spent on activities such as ballet or long-distance running can be helpful, along with regularly massaging the soles of the feet and calves.

Applying ice to the foot can help reduce swelling in cases where inflammation is apparent. If pain persists or the affected area does not improve, it is recommended to consult a healthcare professional such as a chiropodist.

Is tingling in feet serious? Sometimes it can be. Consult a chiropodist.

Tarsal tunnel syndrome is a common and painful foot condition that can significantly impact daily life. By understanding its causes, symptoms, and treatment options, individuals can better manage the syndrome and seek professional help when necessary. Moreover, implementing prevention strategies can reduce the risk of developing this condition, allowing for a more comfortable and pain-free life. Contact a FootNetwork clinic near you if you notice tarsal tunnel syndrome symptoms.

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