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What is Tarsal Tunnel Syndrome?

  • Dr. Bruce Zappan
  • December 06, 2017

The tarsal tunnel occupies a space adjacent to your ankle bones and thick ligaments that shield the nerves, arteries, veins, and tendons enclosed in the tunnel. The posterior tibial nerve is one occupant of the tunnel, and a compressed or impinged of this nerve can cause considerable pain and discomfort known as tarsal tunnel syndrome. Other symptoms may include a burning feeling or numbness on the bottom of the foot or inside the ankle.

How does the posterior tibial nerve become injured?

  • Foot or ankle injury—An ankle sprain or strain can cause swelling near the tunnel that adversely affects the nerve.
  • Something else is in the tunnel—A variety of structures can take up space in the tunnel causing compression of the nerve. These include ganglion cysts, bone spurs, varicose veins, and inflamed tendons.
  • System-wide disease—Many diseases, including arthritis and diabetes, can cause inflammation that may result in compression of the posterior tibial nerve.
  • Overpronation—Fallen arches can cause the heel to tilt outward causing stress and strain on the posterior tibial nerve.

Conservative treatments for tarsal tunnel include resting the foot, icing the area for twenty minutes several times a day, and taking appropriate anti-inflammatory medication. A steroid injection may be used to reduce swelling around the nerve. Custom fitted orthotic inserts can support the arch and reduce the motion that is contributing to nerve squeezing.

If you are experiencing tarsal tunnel trouble, or for any other problems you may be experiencing with your feet and ankles, it is important to see a foot care specialist to receive the best care. Bruce B. Zappan, D.P.M., P.C., of Medical Arts Podiatry Associates in Philadelphia, PA provides proper evaluation and individualized recommendations for treatment. Please feel free to contact us with any questions or make an appointment with our office at 215-563-2560.