Tarsal Tunnel Syndrome: Get the Facts

You’ve probably heard of carpel tunnel syndrome – the condition in which the nerve inside the wrist is compressed, causing pain, tingling and numbness. But what do you know about tarsal tunnel syndrome? If you’re experiencing similar pain and tingling along the inside of your ankle and down your foot, you know a lot more about the condition than you think.

The tarsal tunnel is the narrow space between the ankle bones where nerves, tendons and blood vessels travel from the lower leg to the foot. Tarsal tunnel syndrome occurs when the lower part of the sciatic nerve in your leg and foot (tibial nerve) in the tarsal tunnel becomes damaged.

Causes of Tarsal Tunnel Syndrome
Doctors cannot always detect the exact cause of tarsal tunnel syndrome, but some contributors are believed to be:

  • Flat feet, which can change the course of the nerves and tendons running into your feet and put pressure on the tibial nerve
  • Varicose veins
  • Swollen tendons
  • Bone spurs
  • Systemic diseases like rheumatoid arthritis or diabetes
  • Fractures, dislocations or a bone chip

How Is Tarsal Tunnel Syndrome Treated?
The most common ways to treat tarsal tunnel symptoms are applying ice to reduce swelling, rest, over-the-counter anti-inflammatories and staying still to allow the nerve to heal. If tarsal tunnel pain is excruciating, your doctor may recommend a brace to reduce nerve pressure or an injection of a corticosteroid.

Preventing Tarsal Tunnel Syndrome
Understanding the causes of tarsal tunnel syndrome is important in order to prevent the condition. Consider the following:

  • If you walk or stand for a long period of time, be sure to take pressure off your feet by sitting down and resting every so often to help reduce stress on the tarsal tunnel.
  • Wear footwear with supportive arches or arch inserts to reduce strain, and make it a point to choose shoes that fit properly.
  • Warm up before engaging in strenuous activity to keep your lower leg muscles and feet flexible and strong to prevent injury.
  • Wrap your ankle with a brace before participating in activities that take place on uneven surfaces or require sudden changes in position.

For more information about preventing or identifying tarsal tunnel syndrome, or to schedule an appointment, please contact us or call 310.651.2366.

Posted in: Foot Conditions, Uncategorized

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