Could You Have Tarsal Tunnel Syndrome?

Do you experience a burning or tingling sensation that feels something like an electrical shock on the inside of your ankle bone? What about numbness or shooting pain in that area? If yes, you may be experiencing the symptoms of a condition known as Tarsal Tunnel Syndrome. At Superior Foot & Ankle Care Center we find that these symptoms can manifest in a number of ways. In some patients, they come on suddenly after a particularly strenuous workout session or after a long day of standing. The symptoms may also be experienced just in one spot or extend to the heel, calf, arch, and toes. This can make diagnosis a bit tricky because the symptoms are similar to those of several other podiatric conditions. Our podiatrists, Dr. Victoria Foley and Dr. Constance Ornelas will want to do a complete examination of your foot and ankle, checking for loss of sensation and trying to reproduce the symptoms you experience. Nerve conduction studies and advanced imaging studies may also be ordered.

Tracking Down the Source

The tarsal tunnel is literally a tunnel on the inside of your ankle that houses the posterior tibial nerve along with arteries, veins, and tendons. The tunnel is covered with a thick, protective ligament. Whenever something occurs that causes the nerve to be compressed the above symptoms can result. There are many different reasons for nerve compression:

  • Flat feet—fallen arches cause the heel to turn outward which can put a strain on the posterior tibial nerve.
  • Crowding—if an abnormal structure such as a ganglion cyst or a bone spur develops in the tunnel or a structure such as a tendon or varicose vein becomes enlarged it takes up more space in the tarsal tunnel, decreasing the amount of room for the nerves and other structures that belong in the tunnel. This causes the nerve to be squeezed or compressed.
  • Injury—if you sprain your ankle or sustain another injury to that part of your foot the nerve may be compressed due to swelling or inflammation that occurs from the injury.
  • Disease—certain diseases, such as diabetes and arthritis, also have swelling associated with them and will produce compression.

Once the foot doctor confirms a diagnosis of tarsal tunnel syndrome and determines the source the appropriate treatment can be prescribed. Left untreated the nerve damage can become permanent. So don’t delay—if you have symptoms, contact our Long Beach office at 562-420-9800.