Facts About Tarsal Tunnel Syndrome

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At Paul Klein, DPM, FACFAS, we often find that patients are unfamiliar with the condition tarsal tunnel syndrome until they are diagnosed with it. The tarsal tunnel is a structure on the inside of your ankle that holds tendons, veins, arteries and nerves. One of these nerves, the posterior tibial nerve, is at the center of tarsal tunnel syndrome. Below are some facts about this condition to help patients better understand its causes and treatments:

FACT: Tarsal tunnel syndrome occurs when the posterior tibial nerve is compressed. This means it is squeezed or pressure is applied to it which produces symptoms.

FACT: The symptoms of tarsal tunnel syndrome vary and can include: sharp, shooting pain, numbness and/or a burning or tingling feel, much like an electrical shock. These symptoms may be localized in just one spot near the ankle bone on the inside or bottom of the foot, or they may reach the heel, arch, toes or calf. Symptoms may come on suddenly.

FACT: There are multiple causes of tarsal tunnel syndrome. Pressure to the nerve can be the result of inflammation from an injury, like an ankle sprain, or from a disease that causes inflammation like arthritis or diabetes. Nerve compression can also be due to an enlarged or abnormal structure in the tunnel, such as a varicose vein, ganglion cyst, or enlarged tendon. Finally, patients with flat feet are more prone to tarsal tunnel syndrome because fallen arches can put strain on the posterior tibial nerve.

FACT: Since there are multiple causes of tarsal tunnel syndrome and the symptoms can mimic those of other podiatric conditions, narrowing down a diagnosis can be more complex. Our podiatrist, Dr. Paul G. Klein, will want to get your medical history and conduct a complete exam of your foot and ankle. The foot doctor will press around the affected area to see if any masses are detected and to reproduce the symptoms you are experiencing. He will also want to check for any loss of feeling in your feet. In addition, advanced imaging studies and nerve tests may be used to aid in diagnosis.

FACT: There are numerous treatment options available for tarsal tunnel syndrome depending on the root cause of the nerve compression. Nerve damage can become permanent, however, if not treated promptly. If you have any symptoms of this disorder, contact our Wayne, New Jersey office at your earliest convenience by calling: (973) 595-1555.