Tarsal Tunnel Syndrome

Our Award-Winning Physicians Can Help Treat & Relieve Your Nerve Pain

You’ve probably heard of carpal tunnel syndrome, a painful condition caused by compression of a nerve the runs through the wrist. The same kind of condition can also happen to a nerve running through your ankle. This is called tarsal tunnel syndrome, and can be quite painful.

The tarsal tunnel lies on the inside of the ankle and is covered with a thick ligament that protects and secures the arteries, veins, tendons, and nerves pass through to the bottom of the foot. One of these structures is the posterior tibial nerve. When this nerve is squeezed or compressed, the result can include numbness, tingling, and burning pain extending to the heel and sole of the foot.

Causes of Tarsal Tunnel Syndrome

The tarsal tunnel is a confined area. Anything that increases pressure within it, then, can potentially cause irritation to the posterior tibial nerve.

  • Enlarged structures within the tarsal tunnel, such as varicose veins, ganglion cysts, swollen tendons, or bone spurs can impinge on the nerve.
  • Various injuries such as ankle sprains can also lead to increased swelling and inflammation within the tarsal tunnel and result in nerve compression.
  • Systemic disease, diabetes, and arthritis can create swelling affects within the tarsal tunnel and ultimately lead to compression of the nerve.
  • Flat feet, fallen arches, and other structural foot problems can cause an outward tilting of the ankle, thereby producing excess strain and compression on the nerve.
Barefoot female feet on green field with flowers

Symptoms of Tarsal Tunnel Syndrome

Patients with tarsal tunnel syndrome may experience one or more of the following symptoms:

  • Tingling, burning, or an electrical shocking sensation
  • Numbness
  • Shooting pain

Sometimes symptoms develop gradually over time, while in other cases they may appear suddenly. Pain may be isolated to a specific area, such as the heel or inside of the foot, but it may also radiate fully down through the bottom of the foot and toes, or even up into the calf.

Prolonged standing, walking, exercising, or sudden changes in your exercise program are all risk factors that can trigger symptoms.

Tarsal tunnel syndrome can become so severe that it interferes with one’s ability to work and perform job duties comfortably, wear shoes, and stay healthy and active with regular exercise.

Diagnosis of Tarsal Tunnel Syndrome

Because the symptoms of tarsal tunnel syndrome can overlap with those of other conditions, proper evaluation is necessary so that a diagnosis can be confirmed and appropriate treatment can be initiated.

At your appointment, your doctor will ask about your medical history and symptoms and perform a thorough physical examination. X-rays, neurologic testing, and even lab work might be recommended to screen for other associated conditions that could impact or influence the method of treatment.

feet on grass. Family picnic in spring park

Treatment of Tarsal Tunnel Syndrome

Tarsal tunnel syndrome is important to diagnose and treat as early as possible. If left untreated the condition can progress and may result in permanent nerve damage. Our goal is to provide you with the pain relief to allow you to recover and return to your normal activity routine. To schedule an appointment, please reach out to our Waco, TX office at (254) 776-6995.