Tarsal tunnel syndrome

Tarsal tunnel syndrome affects the wrist which is due to the pressure on the tibial nerve as it travels via the interior of the foot and ankle.

There is significant pain that often occurs along with nerve compression which disrupts with activities. This leads to the need for treatment by a doctor.

What are the causes?

Traumatic injuries such as an ankle sprain or other form of injury to the joint usually leads to tarsal tunnel syndrome. Other causes can include the following:

Tarsal tunnel syndrome

An individual with tarsal tunnel syndrome usually ends up with foot pain that can be described as a tingling or burning sensation around the ankle.

  • Swollen flexor tendons – these tendons travel down the interior of the ankle and beneath the foot to the toes to allow toe movement.
  • Pronation – rolling of the feet inwards while running or walking can later lead to flat feet
  • Inflammatory arthritis – once the joints are inflamed, it results to swelling and pressure and can negatively affect the tibial nerve
  • Venous stasis edema – the malfunctioning of the venous circulatory system causes the blood to flow back and pool in the tissue, thus placing pressure on the tibial nerve.

What are the indications?

An individual with tarsal tunnel syndrome usually ends up with foot pain that can be described as a tingling or burning sensation around the ankle. There is also minimal numbness on the base of the foot. Nevertheless, the main symptom is pain radiating distally to the toes.

Other indications include the following:

  • Pain radiating proximally to the thigh and buttocks
  • Intensifying pain when wearing shoes
  • Increased pain at night time
  • Pain or discomfort worsens while walking and standing yet settles while resting

Management

You can provide initial relief with a massage, ankle and foot range of motion workouts and leg elevation. The range of motion exercise usually involves drawing the foot upwards and pointing downwards as well as creating little inward and outward circles with the foot.

The treatment must include support to the ankle and foot either with applied strapping or a removal device. In addition, casting might also be beneficial.

Other treatment options include the following:

  • Application of ice to minimize the inflammation
  • Ensuring that the foot is evened out using orthotics or supports for the arch to avoid pronation which stretches the posterior tibial nerve
  • Wearing footwear that can fix pronation
  • Oral anti-inflammatory medications such as ibuprofen
  • Steroids and an anesthetic agent might be given by the doctor
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