Similar to carpal tunnel syndrome in the wrists, tarsal tunnel syndrome is a condition that can cause severe ankle pain for those affected. The tarsal tunnels are located on the inside of the ankles, and allow blood vessels and nerves to travel down the leg into the foot.
Tarsal tunnel syndrome occurs when an injury or other condition causes compression of the tibial nerve. There is a range of underlying causes for tarsal tunnel syndrome, but the most frequent include inflammation from ankle sprains and age-related conditions such as arthritis. Another key contributor are biomechanical issues such as low arches, also known as flat feet, that can stretch and irritate the tibial nerve.
Commonly reported symptoms of tarsal tunnel syndrome include pain, tingling, numbness, and limited range of motion in the ankle and foot. This can result in a diminished capacity to perform basic tasks at home and work, or participate in sports and leisure activities. Fortunately, tarsal tunnel syndrome can improve in many cases, particularly by taking a proactive approach to treatment.
To help you find the relief you deserve from tarsal tunnel syndrome, we’re sharing the following helpful guide to treatment. If you have any questions or would like to learn more, contact a member of our caring team today.
1. A foot brace
Whether tarsal tunnel syndrome is caused by an injury such as a sprain or an issue such as high or low arches, many doctors recommend using a foot brace to stabilize the ankle. This can allow patients to maintain basic mobility while reducing excessive motion in the tarsal tunnel that causes tibial nerve compression. Although foot braces and ankle braces can be purchased over the counter at retail outlets, many patients also get fitted for a custom brace by a podiatrist or other specialist.
2. Anti-inflammatory injections
If basic treatments, such as over-the-counter anti-inflammatory medication and an ice pack aren’t able to reduce inflammation enough to relieve tarsal tunnel syndrome, your doctor may recommend a corticosteroid injection. This can help relieve symptoms on an intermediate basis while the overall progress of the injury is monitored. Pain-relieving anti-inflammatory steroid injections can also help patients complete physical therapy programs that may have otherwise been too painful to undergo.
3. Physical therapy
Working with a physical therapist to strengthen and stabilize the ankle while improving range of motion is an essential step in the healing process for many people. Physical therapy for tarsal tunnel syndrome usually involves a combination of therapeutic exercise and stretches as well as hands-on techniques such as massage or soft tissue mobilization that relieves tibial nerve compression. Physical therapy can also help patients learn proper mechanics, which is a critical aspect of ankle health that can also help limit reinjury of the ankle.
4. Tarsal tunnel syndrome surgery
If conservative therapies have been exhausted without bringing the relief necessary for a good quality of life, tarsal tunnel syndrome surgery can become a serious consideration. After a thorough evaluation, surgeons may recommend a procedure such as tarsal tunnel release, which involves performing a careful and precise cut on soft tissue in the ankle to remove pressure on the tibial nerve. Often, tarsal tunnel syndrome surgery involves minimally invasive techniques that allow for an outpatient procedure.
Reach out to USA Spine Care & Orthopedics today
If you are exploring your treatment options to find lasting relief from tarsal tunnel syndrome and associated ankle pain, reach out to the team at USA Spine Care & Orthopedics today. Our state-of-the-art treatments include physical therapy services, interventions such as pain-relieving injections and a world-class ambulatory surgery center. We’ll help you develop a personalized plan that is right for your treatment goals, no matter where you are on your recovery journey.
Our team is dedicated to the highest level of patient-centered care so you can get back to the people and activities you’ve been missing. Tarsal tunnel syndrome and tibial nerve compression doesn’t have to run your life. Contact us today to learn more and start your journey toward relief.
Tarsal Tunnel Syndrome Quick Answers
Does tarsal tunnel syndrome go away?
With rest and proper treatment, it is possible for tarsal tunnel syndrome to improve on its own. By taking a proactive approach and limiting stress on the ankle, inflammation and compression on the tibial nerve can lessen, leading to symptom relief.
Where does tarsal tunnel syndrome cause pain?
The tarsal tunnel is a narrow passage of bone at the ankle, allowing nerves and blood vessels to travel into the foot. Because of this, problems like tarsal tunnel syndrome primarily result in ankle pain and limited mobility. Additionally, due to nerve compression, the condition can also result in pain and symptoms in the feet and toes.
How long does tarsal tunnel syndrome take to heal?
Recovery time varies on a case-by-case basis, although with proper treatment, tarsal tunnel syndrome can often improve in a manner of weeks. Factors that affect recovery time include age, state of health, specific treatments, activity level and weight. Work with your doctor or another medical professional to create a care plan that is right for your needs and lifestyle.
What is the best treatment for tarsal tunnel syndrome?
Common conservative therapies for tarsal tunnel syndrome include rest, elevation, hot and cold compression therapy, physical therapy, anti-inflammatory medication, and corticosteroid injections. In severe cases where conservative therapies are not effective, surgery can become a serious consideration. The goal of a procedure such as tarsal release is to remove material in the tarsal tunnel that is causing nerve compression.