Tarsal tunnel syndrome is a painful and debilitating condition affecting the feet. While treatment options are available, you will first need to get a proper diagnosis, which can prove difficult for some.
What Is Tarsal Tunnel Syndrome?
Tarsal tunnel syndrome is a condition that occurs when the posterior tibial nerve is compressed. This nerve runs alongside the ankle into the foot. The tarsal tunnel itself is a thin space along the inside of the ankle, between the bones. This often-overlooked region contains nerves, arteries, and tendons, and it also includes the posterior tibial nerve, which is responsible for movement and sensation in the foot and calf muscles.
You’ve likely never paid attention to your tibial nerve—or even knew it existed—but when you have tarsal tunnel syndrome, you will be well aware of it as it will tingle, burn, or cause numbness.
Cause and Symptoms of Tarsal Tunnel Syndrome
Tarsal tunnel syndrome is caused by various factors, including:
- Pressure or an injury, including direct pressure on the tibial nerve for extended periods of time
- Diseases that cause nerve damage, including diabetes
- Occasional development with no known cause
Some symptoms of tarsal tunnel syndrome include:
- Varying sensations in the foot at different times
- Pain, tingling, burning, or any other unusual feeling in the foot of the affected leg
- Weakened foot muscles, including reduced ability to curl toes or flex feet
- Infection and ulcers on the affected foot
How Is Tarsal Tunnel Syndrome Diagnosed?
Due to its copycat symptoms of other conditions, it can be tricky to accurately diagnose tarsal tunnel syndrome. There are two ways to diagnose this issue:
- Doctor’s physical examination
- Nerve conduction studies
For the doctor’s exam, a qualified podiatrist will manipulate the affected foot. They might tap the injured or compressed area just below the ankle bone. If tarsal tunnel syndrome is present, this tapping will cause a tingling sensation known as the “Tinel sign.” This sensation may extend all the way from toes to heel, presenting a strong possibility of tarsal tunnel syndrome.
Nerve conduction studies include EEG and MRI to get a further look at the foot injury and to properly determine if it is tarsal tunnel syndrome. Both of these procedures are painless and can be carried out at the podiatry office.
Trust Our Team to Care for You
It is important to get treatment for this condition as soon as possible, as it won’t simply go away on its own. A wide variety of treatments from icing and elevation to surgery are available, but the longer an individual waits to be diagnosed, the more complicated the condition might become.
At InStride Carolina Podiatry Group, our knowledgeable team of podiatrists can easily diagnose tarsal tunnel syndrome in-office. Call our Lancaster office at 803-285-1411 or visit our website to contact us and discover our other office locations near you.