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What Is Tarsal Tunnel Syndrome?

Most have heard of and many have experienced carpal tunnel syndrome but there is also a tarsal tunnel syndrome. With this condition the posterior tibial nerve becomes compressed or squeezed causing various symptoms of discomfort to occur. In both tarsal tunnel and carpal tunnel syndrome there is a nerve that becomes compressed in a confined area. Symptoms of tarsal tunnel syndrome will arise along the nerve path to the inside of the ankle to the foot.

Syndrome’s Symptoms and Causes

Those with tarsal tunnel syndrome will experience symptoms that will alert an individual of the development of some sort of problem. The cause of the condition will be something that has produced the compression of the nerve. Some of these causes for the compression are as follows:

 • Flat feet is often a cause as the tilting outwardly of the heel as seen in fallen arches produces straining and the nerve to be compressed.
• Abnormal, swollen, or enlarged types of structures that invade space in the tunnel may put compression on the nerve. These structures may range from ganglion cysts, swollen tendons, varicose veins, or even a bone spur of arthritic nature.
• Swelling and inflammation from such things as an ankle sprain could cause the nerve to become compressed.
• Swelling from certain medical conditions such as diabetes and arthritis may compress the nerve. These causes have associated symptoms.

Those with tarsal tunnel syndrome may have only one of these symptoms while others may have more or even all of them at one time. These are as follows:

• Numbness in the entire foot or in the toes as well as only on various areas of the foot and ankle.
• Pain throughout the foot, often described as a shooting pain.
• Burning or tingling sensation. Also a sensation of that of an electrical shock.

Most of the symptoms are usually felt by the individual to the inside of the ankle or on the sole of the foot. However, a symptom may also only be in one particular area of the foot while others may have them in all areas of the foot. Each case of tarsal tunnel syndrome is individualized to the person. No one person experiences the exact symptoms. In most all cases the symptoms appear rather quickly and then are exacerbated by activities involving the foot especially those that are for long periods of time.

Treatment Options

Early treatment usually leads to a more successful amount of healing. The longer an individual waits to seek treatment the more likely they are to be left with permanent nerve damage. One should seek the advice of their doctor who can refer them for the proper types of testing for accurate diagnosis.

Some of the treatments or combinations of treatments that may be needed include:

• Always get ample amounts of rest to prevent injuring the foot anymore and to speed the healing process.
• Try applying ice to the area. Place a towel over the area before applying the ice to protect the skin from possible damage of the cold temperature of the ice. Try to leave the ice on for at least twenty minutes at a time then off for forty minutes before applying ice again.
• Use anti-inflammatory medications to relieve foot pain and reduce inflammation.
• Support shoes to reduce stress on the area.
• Physical therapy can help one increase the strength and flexibility of the affected foot and eventually reduce the amount of pain.
• To aid in the reduction of the pressure placed on the foot, a brace or cast may need to be applied.
• Anesthetic injections to relieve pain or steroidal type injections for inflammation may be beneficial.

Often the condition will require that one or more surgical procedures will need to be performed in order to correct the problem. The individuals doctor and surgeon will work together to plan a course of treatment that will most likely heal the individual. Those who have surgery should always follow the directions of their doctors and keep all follow-up appointments so that the progression of the healing process as well as any potential problems can be monitored.
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