The tarsal tunnel is a small tunnel in the foot through which the Posterior Tibial nerve runs.  The main nerve serving the foot, the posterior tibial nerve.  Tarsal tunnel syndrome is caused by compression of this nerve, which in turn causes the nerve to become inflamed and stop working properly.
Tarsal tunnel syndrome is one of several conditions that can cause heel pain, numbness, and tingling.  It can also cause pain on the underside of the sole and toes.  Because several other conditions can also cause pain in these areas, correct diagnosis is essential.  Tarsal tunnel syndrome is relatively uncommon, and may resolve itself spontaneously.   Some causes include, bony callous from a previous fracture of the ankle bone , inflammation of one of the tendons passing through the tarsal tunnel, excessive foot pronation, obesity, pregnancy and arthritis.

Since the posterior tibial nerve serves a large area in the foot, pain, numbness, or discomfort may be difficult to pinpoint.  Some patients report persistent burning pain, or pain like an electric shock that shoots down to the toes or up to the calf.  There may be weakness in the muscles served by the nerve.  The condition may also be associated with calf pain, especially at night.  Symptoms are usually worse when standing or walking on the foot, but do not go away completely at rest.  There is usually tenderness just below the bony bump on the inner surface of the ankle.  Symptoms may be sporadic.

Treatments are designed to relieve pressure on the nerve, proper diagnosis is essential, and tarsal tunnel syndrome is difficult to diagnose.  Addressing excessive pronation, with changes in shoes and custom made orthotics, weight loss and anti inflammatory medication. In extreme cases surgery may be necessary if conservative measures fail, surgical results are generally mixed. If you suffer from this condition a Podiatrist will be able to help diagnose and treat this condition.












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Page last updated 14 October, 2007