Tarsal Tunnel Syndrome

Tarsal Tunnel Syndrome is a condition where the tibial nerve in the ankle becomes compressed or squeezed. This can cause pain, tingling, and numbness in the foot and ankle.

Tarsal Tunnel Syndrome
Tarsal Tunnel Syndrome
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Your Guide to Understanding Tarsal Tunnel Syndrome

What is Tarsal Tunnel Syndrome?

Tarsal Tunnel Syndrome is a condition that affects the tibial nerve as it passes through a narrow tunnel called the tarsal tunnel, located on the inside of the ankle. This tunnel is formed by the bones and soft tissues of the foot. When the tibial nerve becomes compressed or squeezed within this tunnel, it can lead to a variety of symptoms.

The compression of the tibial nerve can cause pain, tingling, numbness, or a burning sensation in the foot and ankle. These symptoms may radiate into the arch of the foot, heel, or even the toes. Some individuals may also experience weakness in the foot muscles or a feeling of electric shock-like sensations. The symptoms can range from mild to severe and may worsen with prolonged standing, walking, or activities that put pressure on the affected area.

There are several factors that can contribute to the development of Tarsal Tunnel Syndrome. These include overuse or repetitive strain on the foot, such as from running or participating in high-impact sports. Injuries such as ankle sprains or fractures can also lead to the compression of the tibial nerve. Additionally, structural abnormalities like flat feet or the presence of cysts or tumors in the tarsal tunnel can contribute to the condition.

Treatment for Tarsal Tunnel Syndrome aims to relieve the compression of the tibial nerve and reduce symptoms. Non-surgical approaches may include rest, ice, elevation, and the use of supportive footwear or orthotic devices to alleviate pressure on the affected area. Physical therapy exercises may be recommended to improve strength and flexibility in the foot and ankle. In some cases, medication for pain management or corticosteroid injections may be prescribed. If conservative measures do not provide relief, surgical intervention may be considered to release the pressure on the tibial nerve.

How can Chiropractic help treat Tarsal Tunnel Syndrome?

Chiropractic services offer a non-invasive and holistic approach to alleviate the symptoms of Tarsal Tunnel Syndrome. By focusing on the nervous system, chiropractors aim to reduce pain and inflammation associated with this condition.

They may utilize various techniques such as custom orthotics, taping, stretching, and soft tissue manipulation to provide relief and improve overall foot function. Chiropractic adjustments can help improve motion to the foot and ankle joints, reducing pressure on the tibial nerve and promoting healing. Patients often experience improved quality of life and reduced reliance on medications or surgery through chiropractic care for Tarsal Tunnel Syndrome.

What causes Tarsal Tunnel Syndrome?

Tarsal Tunnel Syndrome is typically caused by the compression or squeezing of the tibial nerve as it passes through the tarsal tunnel, a narrow space on the inside of the ankle. The exact cause of this compression can vary from person to person, but several factors can contribute to its development.

One common cause of Tarsal Tunnel Syndrome is overuse or repetitive strain on the foot. Activities that involve excessive walking, running, or jumping can put stress on the tibial nerve and the surrounding tissues, leading to compression over time. Additionally, injuries such as ankle sprains or fractures can result in swelling or scar tissue formation, which can also put pressure on the nerve.

Structural abnormalities can also play a role in causing Tarsal Tunnel Syndrome. Flat feet or fallen arches, where the foot's natural arch is reduced, can lead to an increased strain on the tibial nerve as it passes through the tarsal tunnel. Other anatomical variations or bone spurs in the area may contribute to the compression as well.

Certain medical conditions can also increase the risk of developing Tarsal Tunnel Syndrome. These include arthritis, diabetes, obesity, and peripheral neuropathy. These conditions can affect the nerves and tissues in the foot, making them more susceptible to compression within the tarsal tunnel.

What treatments might help Tarsal Tunnel Syndrome?

The treatment for Tarsal Tunnel Syndrome aims to alleviate symptoms, reduce inflammation, and improve the overall condition. Here are some common approaches that can help improve Tarsal Tunnel Syndrome:

  • Rest: Giving your foot and ankle sufficient rest for a few days or weeks can promote healing and prevent further injury.
  • Ice Packs: Applying ice packs to the affected area for up to 20 minutes at a time can help reduce pain and inflammation.
  • Medications: Over-the-counter non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), such as ibuprofen or naproxen, may be recommended to alleviate pain and reduce inflammation.
  • Physical Therapy: Physical therapy exercises and techniques can help relieve pain, reduce compression on the affected nerve, and restore strength and flexibility in the foot and ankle. Calf stretches and specific exercises targeting the muscles around the ankle may be prescribed.
  • Footwear Modification: Wearing supportive and well-fitting footwear can help relieve pressure on the affected area and provide better arch support.

Signs of Tarsal Tunnel Syndrome:

Tarsal Tunnel Syndrome can be identified by several common signs and symptoms:

  • Pain: Individuals with Tarsal Tunnel Syndrome often experience pain in the ankle and foot. This pain may vary in intensity, ranging from a mild ache to a sharp or shooting sensation. The pain may worsen with activity or prolonged standing.
  • Tingling or Numbness: Another common sign is tingling or numbness in the ankle, foot, or toes. It may feel like pins and needles or a sensation of "falling asleep" in the affected area.
  • Burning Sensation: Some individuals may experience a burning sensation along the inside of the ankle or the sole of the foot. This sensation can range from mild to severe and may be present even at rest.
  • Weakness: Tarsal Tunnel Syndrome can cause weakness in the foot muscles, making it difficult to perform certain movements or activities that require strength and stability.
  • Radiating Pain: In some cases, the pain or discomfort may radiate from the ankle or foot upwards towards the calf or lower leg.

Symptoms of Tarsal Tunnel Syndrome:

Tarsal Tunnel Syndrome can cause a range of symptoms that can affect the ankle, foot, and toes. Here are some common symptoms associated with this condition:

  • Pain: Individuals with Tarsal Tunnel Syndrome often experience pain in the ankle. This pain can extend to the arch of the foot or radiate to the toes. The intensity of the pain may vary from mild to severe and can be persistent or intermittent.
  • Tingling or Numbness: Many people with Tarsal Tunnel Syndrome report sensations of tingling or numbness in the ankle, foot, or toes. It can feel like pins and needles or a "falling asleep" sensation.
  • Burning or Electric Shock Sensation: Some individuals may experience a burning or electric shock-like sensation in the affected area. This sensation can be uncomfortable and may worsen with activity.
  • Swelling: Swelling around the ankle or in the foot can be a symptom of Tarsal Tunnel Syndrome. The swelling may be localized to the affected area.
  • Weakness: Tarsal Tunnel Syndrome can cause weakness in the muscles of the foot, making it difficult to perform activities that require strength and balance.
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When is the right time to see a Chiropractor for Tarsal Tunnel Syndrome?

It is advisable to see a chiropractor if you are experiencing symptoms of Tarsal Tunnel Syndrome that persist or worsen over time. Some common symptoms include pain, tingling, numbness, or a burning sensation in the ankle and foot, as well as weakness in the foot muscles or electric shock-like sensations.

If you notice these symptoms and they are affecting your daily activities or quality of life, it is recommended to seek professional help. Additionally, if you have recently experienced an injury to the ankle or foot or have been diagnosed with conditions like arthritis, diabetes, or peripheral neuropathy, it is a good idea to consult with a healthcare professional.

Meet our Lead Chiropractor

Dr. Brett Herlehy

Dr. Brett Herlehy

Chiropractor

Doctor of Chiropractic from New York Chiropractic College

Dr. Brett enjoys working with active individuals looking to reach the next level and also anyone who is trying to incorporate more physical activity into their daily lives.

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