Tarsal tunnel syndrome occurs when the main nerve that goes to the foot gets squeezed. (A similar condition, carpal tunnel syndrome, occurs in the wrist.) Tarsal tunnel syndrome is the result of swelling and scarring on the back of the ankle, sometimes aggravated by the shape or deformity of the foot.
Tarsal tunnel syndrome symptoms include tingling, burning, numbness and vague aching and pain on the inside of the ankle radiating down to the arch of the foot.
The diagnosis of tarsal tunnel syndrome is made by specific palpation over the nerve that is very uncomfortable and sensitive. Frequently, a Nerve Conduction Test, which measures the electrical conduction of the nerve over the ankle, is performed to confirm the diagnosis.
Tarsal tunnel syndrome treatment includes:
• Physical therapy
Rest entails immobilization of the ankle in a brace, boot or a cast. In certain conditions aggravated by an excessive flat foot or pronation of the foot, an orthotic arch support is helpful. Sedative medications that decrease the electrical activity of the nerve are frequently prescribed.
If these treatments do not relieve symptoms, surgery (Tarsal Tunnel Release) may be performed. An incision is made behind the ankle and a ligament that compresses the nerve is released. This decreases the pressure on the nerve by the overlying ligament. Following surgery a removable boot is worn for several weeks. Physical therapy will decrease the swelling and scarring over the nerve.