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Tarsal Tunnel Syndrome

Tarsal tunnel syndrome, also called posterior tibia nerve neuralgia or tibial nerve dysfunction, is far less common than carpal tunnel syndrome, but more debilitating. It can strike at any age, and it’s more common among women than men, primarily because of the types of shoes that women wear. If you’ve ever had carpal tunnel syndrome in your wrist, you’re also more likely to develop a similar condition in your ankles. Tarsal tunnel syndrome treatment eases your pain and prevents further complications, but it must be done by an expert foot specialist. Visit Premier Podiatry in Clifton, New Jersey for all your foot and ankle issues.

You may be more aware of carpal tunnel syndrome because of the notoriety it’s received over the past few decades in conjunction with the rise of computer use and the science of ergonomics. The carpal tunnel is the space in the top of your hands through which nerves run to your fingers. The tarsal tunnel is a space on the inside of each of your ankles through which a nerve runs to your feet.

When the tarsal tunnel is squeezed, the posterior tibial nerve is stressed, which leads to significant pain and even disability. It’s similar to the way you’re effected when the carpal tunnel is squeezed. You must receive a proper diagnosis before proceeding with any treatment for tarsal tunnel syndrome. At Premier Podiatry in Clifton, NJ, Dr. Velimir Petkov is an expert at foot and ankle disorders. He quickly determines the best tarsal tunnel syndrome treatment for your specific foot pain.

Tarsal Tunnel Syndrome Symptoms

Usually, the symptoms of tarsal tunnel syndrome, sometimes referred to as TTS, appear on the bottom of your foot or on the inside of one ankle. Common symptoms include:

  • A burning or tingling sensation that feels like an electric shock
  • Numbness or a lack of feeling
  • Shooting ankle pain
  • Significant foot pain

These symptoms may be isolated to a specific area or spread throughout your foot to the toes, foot arch, ankle and even up through your calf. Pain can come on suddenly or worsen over time. You may feel the discomfort after an aggravating event like starting a new exercise program, but it can come on after standing for long periods of time or following a normal run.

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Causes of Tarsal Tunnel Syndrome

When the posterior tibial nerve is compressed for any length of time, you experience the symptoms that lead you to seek tarsal tunnel syndrome treatment. Even short-term pressure on the tunnel leads to similar symptoms that require TTS treatment. Some of the most common causes of the condition include:

  • Diseases that lead to inflammation throughout your body like arthritis, gout or diabetes.
  • An ankle sprain or other foot injury that creates pressure on the delicate tunnel
  • Flat feet, because your heels tend to tilt outward when you walk, creating tension and pressure on the nerve in your ankle
  • A growth such as a tumor or an enlarged structure that presses on the nerve — such as a tendon that’s swollen, bone spurs, a cyst or varicose veins
  • Improperly fitting shoes

Tarsal tunnel syndrome is common among athletes who participate in strenuous running or prolonged walking. Standing for long periods of time can lead to TTS, especially if you do it for a job over many years.

Diagnosing TTS

The first step is getting a clear diagnosis as early as possible from an expert such as Dr. Petkov. Untreated, TSS can lead to permanent nerve damage and disability. At your initial consultation at podiatrist office in New Jersey, your foot doctor looks for loss of feeling. By applying light, manual pressure, your doctor often can tell if you have a mass pressing on the nerve.

While sometimes misdiagnosed as plantar fasciitis or Morton’s neuroma, TTS requires different treatments. At Premier Podiatry, you have access to advanced diagnostic procedures such as electromyography and nerve conduction velocity to evaluate any nerve damage.

Tarsal Tunnel Syndrome Treatments

Once it’s determined that you have TTS, tarsal tunnel syndrome treatment usually begins conservatively. Podiatrists in NJ often recommend non-invasive treatments alone or in combination. These include:

  • Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory medication to reduce swelling and pain
  • Immobilizing your foot with a cast to give the nerve and the surrounding tissue time to heal
  • Rest to keep pressure off the stressed tunnel
  • Ice to decrease inflammation
  • Physical therapy that includes targeted exercises and ultrasound treatment
  • Prescription for orthotics or special shoes
  • Braces, especially helpful if you have flat feet
  • Injections of an anesthetic to treat pain and corticosteroids to reduce inflammation

Tarsal tunnel syndrome surgery is only required if your condition worsens or if you don’t find relief from other options. If your podiatrist discovers lesions crowding the space in the tarsal tunnel, surgery is often the go-to option. Surgery usually entails an endoscopic procedure that requires local anesthesia. It’s performed in the doctor’s office to relieve the pressure on the nerve.

Following a brief recovery period, you find results from tarsal tunnel syndrome surgery generally favorable. You can resume your normal activity levels as long as you follow your podiatrist’s advice and take precautions to prevent any future injuries. Don’t suffer from ankle or foot pain; contact Premier Podiatry in Clifton, NJ for an appointment.

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