Any suspected form of nerve pain can be concerning. And when that pain seems to increase with activity – or even keeps you from being active in the first place – that is even more reason to address the problem now.
Tarsal tunnel syndrome is one cause of nerve-related symptoms in the feet and lower legs, and Advanced Foot & Ankle Specialists has helped many patients with it find much-deserved relief.
What are the Symptoms of Tarsal Tunnel Syndrome?
Many people with tarsal tunnel syndrome experience one or more of the following symptoms:
- Pain. This can be located in the feet, ankles, or lower leg. It can range from mild to severe, and can sometimes be described as “stabbing.”
- Tingling or “electrical” sensations. Some patients report feeling like they sometimes receive an electrical shock.
- Burning sensations.
- Numbness or loss of sensation in the foot, ankle, or toes.
In most cases, symptoms will tend to appear or worsen during or after physical activity. More severe cases typically have more persistent symptoms, even when sitting, lying down, or being generally inactive.
What is Tarsal Tunnel Syndrome? What Causes It?
So what might be going on to produce the above problems?
The tarsal tunnel is a narrow passage within the ankle, surrounded by bone and soft tissue. The posterior tibial nerve, which travels along the calf and into the foot, passes through this tunnel.
Nerves are meant to glide smoothly through tunnels like these. But if the posterior tibial nerve becomes trapped or compressed against a neighboring bone or tissue within the tarsal tunnel, it can easily become irritated and inflamed.
Tarsal tunnel syndrome can occur for many reasons, but among the more common are repetitive stresses or injuries that place excess pressure on the posterior tibial nerve. Such forces may come from overuse injuries sustained through physical activity and exercise, or jobs that require long periods of being on one’s feet.
Other potential factors that can contribute to tarsal tunnel syndrome include:
- Past foot or ankle injuries, such as sprains or fractures
- Flat feet or other abnormalities in foot structure
- Being overweight
- Cysts, lesions, scar tissue, or other masses that press on the nerve
- Nerve damage caused by diabetes or other disorders
Treating Tarsal Tunnel Syndrome
There is never a good reason to wait to address any form of nerve pain. For tarsal tunnel syndrome and many other related conditions, starting treatment sooner can greatly reduce the risk of nerve damage becoming more severe and leading to worse complications.
Before making any treatment recommendations, we will always fully evaluate each patient to determine whether the source of the problem is tarsal tunnel syndrome or a different condition. We may ask you questions regarding your activities, how much time you spend on your feet, etc. as part of obtaining a full understanding of your situation.
If tarsal tunnel syndrome is suspected, we will first pursue conservative forms of relieving pressure on the nerve if possible. A treatment plan might include:
- Anti-inflammatory medications
- Steroid injections for temporary relief
- The use of custom orthotics or braces to stabilize the foot and shift pressure away from the nerve
- Laser therapy to promote pain relief and recovery
Conservative treatment tends to be effective in relieving symptoms, but may not work in all cases. For conditions that are more severe or persistent, a surgical procedure such as a tarsal tunnel release may be necessary to provide relief.
Find Comfort, Maintain Mobility
Tarsal tunnel syndrome is not a condition to ignore and just hope it goes away on its own. Getting effective treatment now will not only help you find relief, but can pinpoint and address factors that could lead to further problems in the future.
Schedule an appointment at our Chandler office by calling (480) 963-9000 or by filling out our online contact form.