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Tarsal tunnel syndrome (TTS) is the compression or squeezing of the tibial nerve, which runs through the tarsal tunnel on the inside of the ankle and leads into the foot, producing pain or a tingling sensation anywhere along the nerve’s pathway.
The tarsal tunnel is a narrow space that lies on the inside of the ankle, next to the anklebones, and protects the posterior tibial nerve, arteries, veins and tendons that run through it. As aggravation is inflicted upon these structures, swelling occurs, causing them to expand in the tunnel and putting stress and compression on the tibial nerve. This leads to tingling, burning, numbness or pain in areas of the lower leg.
Prevention of tarsal tunnel syndrome is largely based on avoiding stress or injury to the tibial nerve and reducing the possibility of aggravating the blood vessels and tendons that accompany the nerve in the tarsal tunnel.Prevention suggestions include:
Symptoms of tarsal tunnel syndrome may develop suddenly or progress gradually. Individuals may experience a range of symptoms:
Symptoms are often worsened by prolonged standing or walking, and after an active day. Though rest often alleviates symptoms, individuals with more severe cases of tarsal tunnel syndrome have reported that their pain is persistent even after rest, and is still present at night while he or she attempts to sleep.
Tarsal tunnel syndrome diagnosis requires a physical examination, where a physician will evaluate an individual’s symptoms, review the patient’s medical history, and perform a thorough clinical evaluation and a variety of specialized tests, such as an MRI or nerve conduction study.A simple, yet efficient test that a physician will perform is the Tinel’s sign test, where a doctor will tap or apply pressure to the tibial nerve. If this contact stimulates a tingling or ‘pins and needles’ sensation in the foot or toes, the patient is deemed to have tarsal tunnel syndrome.
A variety of non-surgical treatment options are often used to reduce or eliminate symptoms, including:
When non-surgical treatments fail to alleviate or cure tarsal tunnel syndrome, our physicians will determine if surgery is necessary, and then select the appropriate procedure based on each individual’s condition.