What is tarsal tunnel syndrome?

Tarsal tunnel syndrome: Overview

Tarsal tunnel syndrome is a squeezing or pinching of the tibial nerve. This nerve runs down the back of the leg to the inner ankle. In this area of the ankle joint, a complex mix of nerves, tendons, and ligaments meet. This makes it more likely that the tibial nerve could become pinched.

Certain things may increase your risk of the nerve being pinched. They include:

  • An injury to the ankle.
  • Being on your feet a lot.
  • Being an athlete.
  • Rolling the ankle inward when you walk or run (pronation).
  • A tissue mass or cyst.
  • Inflammation or swelling in the area.

Symptoms include burning foot pain. You may also have aching, numbness, and tingling in the sole or arch of the foot.

At first, treatment may include rest, ice, and nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), like ibuprofen or naproxen. It can also include footwear that supports your feet. Examples are arch supports, custom orthotics, and support shoes. Your doctor might suggest physical therapy. If these treatments don't help, you might get steroid shots or medicine that targets nerve pain.

If these treatments don't help relieve your symptoms, you may need surgery.

Tarsal tunnel syndrome

Tarsal tunnel syndrome is a pinching of the tibial nerve, which stretches down the back of the leg to the inner ankle. In this area of the ankle, a complex mix of nerves, muscles, and ligaments meet; this makes the tibial nerve prone to entrapment, or pinching.

Symptoms of tarsal tunnel syndrome include foot pain and weakness as well as numbness and tingling in the sole or arch of the foot.

A nerve might get pinched as a result of:

  • An injury to the ankle.
  • Rolling the foot inward when walking or running (pronation).
  • A tissue mass or cyst.
  • An area of inflammation in or around a tendon (tenosynovitis).

At first, treatment may include rest, anti-inflammatory medicine, and supportive footwear, such as arch supports, custom orthotics, and support shoes. Steroid shots that target nerve pain are sometimes used.

If these treatments do not help relieve symptoms, surgery may be needed.

What are the symptoms of tarsal tunnel syndrome?

Symptoms of tarsal tunnel syndrome include burning foot pain. It can also cause aching, numbness, and tingling in the sole or arch of the foot.

How is tarsal tunnel syndrome treated?

Rest, ice, and over-the-counter pain medicine are common early treatments. You may also use footwear that supports your feet, like arch supports, orthotics, and support shoes. Your doctor may recommend physical therapy. You may get steroid shots or medicine that targets nerve pain. If these treatments don't help, you may need surgery.

How is tarsal tunnel syndrome diagnosed?

Your doctor will ask about your symptoms and do a physical exam of your foot and ankle. You may also have tests such as a nerve test or imaging tests, like an X-ray or MRI.

How can you care for yourself when you have tarsal tunnel syndrome?

Try to stop or reduce the activity that causes symptoms. Take breaks often. For pain, apply a cold pack for 10 to 20 minutes at a time. Ask your doctor about taking over-the-counter medicine like acetaminophen or ibuprofen. Ask your doctor if you need physical therapy. Follow directions on adjusting shoes and wearing braces.

What is tarsal tunnel syndrome?

Tarsal tunnel syndrome is a squeezing or pinching of the tibial nerve. This nerve runs down the back of the leg to the inner ankle joint, where a complex mix of nerves, tendons, and ligaments meet. This makes it more likely that the tibial nerve could become pinched.

Tarsal tunnel syndrome: When to call

Watch closely for changes in your health, and be sure to contact your doctor if:

  • Your pain or other problems don't get better with home care.
  • You want to learn more about physical therapy.
  • You have any problems with your medicine.

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