Are you experiencing tingling, burning, or shooting pain along the inside of your ankle or the bottom of your foot? If so, you might be experiencing the effects of tarsal tunnel syndrome, a condition involving a nerve that’s been pinched in the ankle.

Although tarsal tunnel syndrome is relatively common, it’s often misdiagnosed as plantar fasciitis or other conditions with similar symptoms—especially by doctors who aren’t as well trained in peripheral nerve problems.

Unfortunately, failure to treat tarsal tunnel syndrome in a timely manner can sometimes result in more permanent nerve damage, so if you believe you may have this condition, please contact Fixing Feet Institute immediately for evaluation and treatment options.

tarsal tunnel syndrome

What Is Tarsal Tunnel Syndrome?

In order to understand tarsal tunnel syndrome, you need to understand something about your foot and ankle anatomy.

As the posterior section of your tibial nerve moves from the leg down into your foot, it must pass through a narrow space along the inside of the ankle called the tarsal tunnel. Sandwiched between bone on one side and a thick ligament on the other, the posterior tibial nerve must share this space with other structures, including arteries and veins.

If the space available in the tunnel becomes compressed via injury, disease, or any number of factors, the nerve may get pinched. Common symptoms of tarsal tunnel may include:

  • Shooting pain, tingling, burning, or “electrical shock” sensations along the inside of your ankle or the bottom of your foot. 
  • Numbness in your feet or toes, which may also result in loss of balance and stability.
  • In severe cases, the sensations can extend to other parts of your foot and possibly even up your calf.

Tarsal tunnel syndrome can come on very quickly or very slowly, so it's important to be aware of any slight changes you may feel in your feet. 

Causes of Tarsal Tunnel Syndrome

Anything that compresses the tibial nerve has the possibility of causing tarsal tunnel syndrome. Among the most common causes is a patient having fallen arches, having flat feet, or being overweight. That constant, repetitive pressure on the tibial nerve can be quite painful.

Tarsal tunnel syndrome is also something that folks with diabetes or arthritis should look out for, because any swelling associated with their disease can cause too much compression within the foot.

Additionally, if you have sprained or injured your ankle or foot in any way that causes swelling, tarsal tunnel syndrome can also occur. This includes if you have any kind of mass in your foot that wouldn't normally be there—varicose veins, tumors, a cyst, bone spurs, and so on. There isn't a lot of extra room in the tarsal tunnel, so unanticipated masses can frequently lead to impingement of the nerve.

Treatment of Tarsal Tunnel Syndrome

This is not the type of foot issue that you can just hope will disappear, so it's vital that you make an appointment with Fixing Feet Institute. Dr. Peyman Elison is a peripheral nerve specialist, former president of the Association of Extremity Surgeons, and is extensively trained in advanced conservative and surgical treatments for tarsal tunnel syndrome. 

We will generally perform Nerve Conduction Velocities (NCV) testing to see how well your nerves are conducting electricity. This is very helpful in diagnosing tarsal tunnel syndrome and other nerve diseases. If the diagnosis is confirmed, we will create a treatment plan to directly tend to your specific needs.

The best treatment plan for any given case of tarsal tunnel syndrome will depend heavily on the specific root causes behind the pinched nerve. Fortunately, nany mild cases of tarsal tunnel syndrome can be treated without surgery. Recommendations may include physical therapy, functional orthotics, cortisone injections, and more.

If your tarsal tunnel syndrome is especially severe or doesn't respond to treatment, surgery may be recommended to relieve your pain. Surgery might be considered if tarsal tunnel syndrome is starting to cause numbness, affect balance, or keep you from sleeping or performing your favorite activities.

Dr. Peyman Elison is one of just a few hundred surgeons nationwide trained in sophisticated Dellon Institute techniques for extremity nerve decompression surgery. This is a cutting-edge surgical approach that will offer patients the best chance at relief.

If you have tarsal tunnel syndrome, or think that you are suffering from some sort of nerve problem, contact Fixing Feet Institute in Surprise, AZ for an appointment today at 623-584-5556. You can also request an appointment online using our contact form.

Dr. Peyman A. Elison
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Founder and Managing Partner of Fixing Feet Institute

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