The tarsal tunnel is a narrow space in the inner ankle that has nerves, blood vessels, and tendons passing through it. When the posterior tibial nerve inside of the tarsal tunnel is compressed, this leads to a painful condition called tarsal tunnel syndrome. Symptoms of this condition include foot pain, a pins and needles sensation, numbness, and swelling. The nerve compression that brings about tarsal tunnel syndrome can be caused by sports injuries, lesions, such as ganglion cysts, that occupy space in the tunnel, excess fluid buildup, changes in the biomechanics of the foot, wearing tight, ill-fitting shoes, or other medical conditions like diabetes and arthritis. In about 30% of cases, the cause is unknown. Nevertheless, tarsal tunnel syndrome can be treated and usually resolves within several weeks of treatment. If you have symptoms of this condition, please seek the care of a podiatrist.
Tarsal tunnel syndrome can be very uncomfortable to live with. If you are experiencing tarsal tunnel syndrome, contact the foot specialists of Marvel Foot & Ankle Centers. Our doctors can provide the care you need to keep you pain-free and on your feet.
Tarsal Tunnel Syndrome
Tarsal tunnel syndrome, which can also be called tibial nerve dysfunction, is an uncommon condition of misfiring peripheral nerves in the foot. The tibial nerve is the peripheral nerve in the leg responsible for sensation and movement of the foot and calf muscles. In tarsal tunnel syndrome, the tibial nerve is damaged, causing problems with movement and feeling in the foot of the affected leg.
Common Cause of Tarsal Tunnel Syndrome
- Involves pressure or an injury, direct pressure on the tibial nerve for an extended period of time, sometimes caused by other body structures close by or near the knee.
- Diseases that damage nerves, including diabetes, may cause tarsal tunnel syndrome.
- At times, tarsal tunnel syndrome can appear without an obvious cause in some cases.
The Effects of Tarsal Tunnel Syndrome
- Different sensations, an afflicted person may experience pain, tingling, burning or other unusual sensations in the foot of the affected leg.
- The foot muscles, toes and ankle become weaker, and curling your toes or flexing your foot can become difficult.
- If condition worsens, infections and ulcers may develop on the foot that is experiencing the syndrome.
A physical exam of the leg can help identify the presence of tarsal tunnel syndrome. Medical tests, such as a nerve biopsy, are also used to diagnose the condition. Patients may receive physical therapy and prescriptive medication. In extreme cases, some may require surgery.