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What Is the Tarsal Tunnel and Why Is It Causing Me Pain?

Tuesday, 16 November 2021 00:00

The tarsal tunnel is a narrow passageway on the inside of the ankle that is made of a thick band of fibrous tissue (flexor retinaculum) and ankle bones. Veins, arteries, muscles, tendons, and the tibial nerve pass through the tarsal tunnel. Certain conditions such as a ganglion cyst, nerve sheath tumors, fibrosis, and even injuries can tighten the already-narrow space within the tunnel and compress the tibial nerve. This can cause burning pain or tingling (paresthesias) along the tibial nerve, the inside of the ankle, or bottom (plantar) part of the foot. If you are experiencing this type of discomfort, contact a podiatrist. They will perform a physical examination and may suggest that an MRI be performed to visualize lesions that may be present within the tunnel. Both conservative and surgical treatments will be considered depending on the cause and severity of the condition and will focus on reducing pressure on the nerve and relieving pain.

Tarsal tunnel syndrome can be very uncomfortable to live with. If you are experiencing tarsal tunnel syndrome, contact Dr. Steven Sheridan of Ankle & Foot Specialty Clinics. Our doctor 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.

If you have any questions please feel free to contact one of our offices located in Sandusky, and Lapeer, MI . We offer the newest diagnostic and treatment technologies for all your foot and ankle needs.

Read more about Treating Tarsal Tunnel Syndrome
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