Tarsal tunnel syndrome is a condition that causes ankle pain along with neurological symptoms such as burning, numbness and tingling sensation. It occurs when the tibia nerve is compressed at the inside (medial) of the ankle, at an area referred to as the “tarsal tunnel“. This condition is very similar to carpal tunnel syndrome, which occurs at the wrist.
Tarsal tunnel syndrome is caused by the compression of the tibial nerve at the tarsal tunnel. Compression occurs when the space within the tarsal tunnel becomes smaller and could be due to several risk factors:
Tarsal tunnel syndrome produces pain along with other neurological symptoms as it is a nerve-related disorder.
Signs and symptoms of tarsal tunnel syndrome include:
Diagnosing tarsal tunnel syndrome can be tricky and podiatrists would normally conduct specific assessments to determine the likelihood of this condition. Further diagnostic imaging or investigation is often required for confirmation (e.g MRI, nerve conduction study).
Conditions that tarsal tunnel syndrome are often misdiagnosed include:
Treatment for tarsal tunnel syndrome involves addressing the factors leading to the compression of the tibial nerve and treating the inflamed tibial nerve. In cases where non-surgical treatments are unable to reduce the compression, surgery may be required.
Treatment options for tarsal tunnel syndrome include: