What is Tarsal Tunnel Syndrome?

Carpal tunnel syndrome is a common and well-known condition. You or someone you know has probably had it.

What isn’t so common, and definitely not known by the majority of people, is a condition called tarsal tunnel syndrome.

It’s essentially the foot’s version of carpal tunnel syndrome. (The carpal bones are in the hand, and the tarsal bones are in the foot.) The tarsal tunnel refers to the area of the foot located around the ankle bone on the inside of your lower leg.

Just like carpal tunnel syndrome, tarsal tunnel syndrome is a nerve condition.

Terms like pinched nerve, entrapment, and compression are used to describe these conditions. All of these terms refer to the fact that unwanted pressure is being placed on the nerve. And just like a pinched nerve in the back or neck, pain is the result. Sometimes the pain can even be severe enough to hamper walking.

The symptoms of tarsal tunnel syndrome are similar to most nerve conditions, including tingling, burning, numbness, shooting pain and/or a deep ache.

The pain is often not in the location of the tarsal tunnel itself. The pain can occur in the heel, the arch, the ball of the foot, or the toes.

One of the ways we can distinguish nerve pain — different from ligament, tendon, muscle and bone pain — is that the pain often occurs when sitting or lying down. Burning, tingling or an electrical sensation can suddenly get your attention while being off of your feet. Tarsal tunnel syndrome pain can also flare up from a shoe hitting the area, or just routine walking.

As with many conditions, the earlier a diagnosis is made, the better the chance a non-invasive solution can relieve the pain.

Some of the remedies can be specific shoe recommendations, custom orthotics, laser therapy, physical therapy, or a cortisone shot. Surgery only becomes necessary when all of the conservative measures have failed.

If any of the symptoms we’ve described are familiar to you, come on in so we can take a look. We’ll do everything we can to relieve the pain quickly and help you avoid surgery.

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