Tarsal tunnel syndrome

Updated on 23 May 2024

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.

Tarsal tunnel syndrome symptoms

It is critical to understand the symptoms of tarsal tunnel syndrome in order to get treatment as soon as possible.

The following symptoms are caused by tibial nerve neuralgia:

  • Weight bearing and wearing particular shoes exacerbate pain on the inside of the ankle;
  • Discomfort that fades with rest;
  • A tingling or burning feeling beneath the foot, particularly when walking;
  • An increase in the stiffness of the foot structures;
  • The pain may radiate to the knee;
  • Cramping in the foot and calf during the night.

Carpal tunnel syndrome can manifest itself in a variety of ways, some of which are comparable to other diseases.

The foot diseases may include the following:

  • Plantar fasciitis;
  • Posterior tibial muscle dysfunction syndrome;
  • Baxter’s neuritis;
  • Peripheral neuropathy caused by the diabetic foot;
  • Total or partial obstruction of blood vessels in the legs and feet.

Diagnosing tarsal tunnel syndrome

As we’ve seen, symptoms of tarsal tunnel syndrome are similar to those of other plantar disorders.

A visit to a podiatric clinic can help explain the issue because the syndrome’s therapy is not the same as for the aforementioned illnesses.

The following tests are carried out by a podiatrist to detect posterior tibial nerve neuralgia:

  • Ultrasound of the foot, which is used to identify the extent of soft tissue damage;
  • Nerve conduction test, which identifies a conduction disorder in the affected nerve and confirms the diagnosis;
  • The biomechanical exam, which allows us to visually examine the foot and verify its function;

Digital x-ray of the foot, looking for bony deformities that may cause or worsen the syndrome.

Causes and aggravating factors

The tissues around the nerve that innervates the heel, the bottom of the foot, and the forefoot contract, resulting in tarsal tunnel syndrome.

The surrounding inflammation compresses and sometimes even stretches this nerve over time.

Tarsal tunnel syndrome is the medical term for this condition.

Although a quarter of documented cases have no known cause (idiopathic syndrome), the remaining instances can be traced back to a few exacerbating variables.

The following factors may contribute to the development of tarsal tunnel syndrome:

  • A flat foot;
  • A fractured foot;
  • Ankle swelling in response to heart failure or kidney failure;
  • Hypothyroidism;
  • Osteoarthritis;
  • Poor posture;
  • Excessive pronation during the stride;
  • Inflammation of the tendons inside the ankle;
  • Wearing shoes that do not fit the foot properly.

 Preventing the development of tarsal tunnel syndrome

Early diagnosis is, without a doubt, the best preventive measure for tarsal tunnel syndrome.

However, implementing other preventive measures can reduce the chances of symptoms appearing, such as:

  • Engaging in regular low-intensity sports or activities;
  • Maintaining a healthy weight;
  • Giving your lower limbs enough rest;
  • Opting for shoes that fit well without being too tight;
  • Reducing the time spent on activities such as ballet or running;
  • Regularly massaging the soles of the feet, working up to the calves.

If there are evident symptoms of inflammation, ice should be applied to the foot to decrease swelling.
Consult a health expert, such as a podiatrist, if the discomfort persists or the afflicted region refuses to deflate.

 Medical treatments

Because tarsal tunnel syndrome causes complications in everyday life, medical treatment is usually required.

Once the diagnosis is confirmed, the podiatrist will recommend a treatment strategy based on the severity of the problem.

These therapeutic techniques tend to be:

Although the podiatrist will make every attempt to act with the least amount of invasiveness possible, a significant problem is likely to necessitate orthopedic surgery.

Surgery serves to relieve the nerve compression causing the foot discomfort.

PiedReseau – Learn more

Are you interested in learning more about tarsal tunnel syndrome? We have a lot of material about foot pain that we post on a daily basis!

Despite the fact that the PiedReseau site’s informative section contains plenty of useful information, nothing matches an actual visit to a podiatrist.

Take care of your feet, they’re precious!

What is tarsal tunnel syndrome? 

Tarsal tunnel syndrome occurs when the posterior tibial nerve is compressed. This compression produces inflammation of the foot’s fibrous canal (tarsal tunnel), which can result in acute ankle pain.

What are the possible complications of tarsal tunnel syndrome? 

The longer you wait to treat this condition, the more the tibial nerve is compressed. This will make it more difficult to alleviate symptoms and get relief.

What activities are most likely to trigger tarsal tunnel syndrome?

Tarsal tunnel syndrome is not caused by any specific behaviors. The major source of this condition is the usage of ill adapted shoes that push on the inside of the ankle. Excessive exertion during athletics, as well as bad posture, can also induce tibial nerve compression.

How can the tarsal tunnel be treated without surgery?  

This problem can be treated by taking anti-inflammatory medicine, wearing well-fitting shoes, using custom-made orthotics, or injecting cortisone into the afflicted region. Bandaging may also be required.

When is tarsal tunnel syndrome treated with podiatric surgery?

When the amount of compression is so high that the discomfort does not go away, decompression surgery is the only choice.

What is the estimated recovery period following tarsal tunnel syndrome treatment?

The time it takes to recover from tarsal tunnel syndrome varies considerably. Depending on the severity of the illness, it might last anywhere from a few weeks to many months. Adapted therapies will be conducted based on the progression of your condition.

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