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Tarsal Tunnel Syndrome: Causes And Treatments.

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Are you experiencing tingling or numbness in your foot? It could be a symptom of tarsal tunnel syndrome, a condition that affects the nerves in your foot. In this article, we will explore the causes and treatments for tarsal tunnel syndrome, providing you with valuable information to understand and manage this condition effectively. Tarsal tunnel syndrome is similar to carpal tunnel syndrome but affects the foot instead of the wrist. It occurs when the tibial nerve becomes compressed or squeezed as it travels through the tarsal tunnel, which is located on the inner side of the ankle. Common causes of tarsal tunnel syndrome include overuse, trauma, flat feet, and inflammatory conditions like arthritis. The symptoms can range from mild discomfort to severe pain and can worsen over time if left untreated. Fortunately, there are various treatment options available to alleviate the symptoms of tarsal tunnel syndrome. These may include rest, physical therapy, anti-inflammatory medication, orthotic devices, and in severe cases, surgery. By understanding the causes and treatment options for tarsal tunnel syndrome, you can take proactive steps to manage your condition and find relief from the discomfort it causes. Stay tuned and empower yourself to make informed decisions about your foot health.

What Is Tarsal Tunnel Syndrome?

Tarsal tunnel syndrome is a condition that affects the nerves in the foot, causing a range of symptoms such as tingling, numbness, and pain. It is similar to carpal tunnel syndrome, which affects the wrist, but in this case, the affected area is the foot.

The tarsal tunnel is a narrow passageway located on the inner side of the ankle, through which the tibial nerve and several tendons pass. When this nerve becomes compressed or squeezed, it can lead to the development of tarsal tunnel syndrome.

The tibial nerve is responsible for providing sensation and motor function to the bottom of the foot, including the toes. When this nerve is compressed, it can result in various uncomfortable and sometimes debilitating symptoms. Understanding the causes and risk factors of tarsal tunnel syndrome is essential for effective management and treatment of this condition.

Recognizing the signs and symptoms of tarsal tunnel syndrome is the first step in seeking appropriate medical care. By educating yourself about this condition, you can take proactive steps to address the underlying causes and find relief from the discomfort it can cause.

Causes Of Tarsal Tunnel Syndrome

There are several potential causes of tarsal tunnel syndrome, and understanding these can help in the diagnosis and treatment of the condition.

One of the most common causes is overuse or repetitive stress on the foot and ankle. Activities that involve a lot of walking, running, or standing can put pressure on the tarsal tunnel and lead to the development of tarsal tunnel syndrome. This is particularly common in athletes, dancers, and individuals with occupations that require prolonged periods of standing or walking.

Trauma or injury to the ankle or foot can also contribute to the development of tarsal tunnel syndrome. Sprains, fractures, or other types of injuries can cause swelling and inflammation in the area, leading to compression of the tibial nerve. This can happen immediately after an injury or develop over time as the area heals.

Another potential cause of tarsal tunnel syndrome is the presence of structural abnormalities or deformities in the foot or ankle. Conditions such as flat feet, high arches, or bone spurs can alter the anatomy of the tarsal tunnel and put pressure on the tibial nerve. These structural issues can be present from birth or develop over time due to aging or other factors.

Certain medical conditions can also increase the risk of developing tarsal tunnel syndrome. Inflammatory conditions like arthritis, diabetes, or thyroid disorders can cause swelling and inflammation in the foot and ankle, leading to nerve compression. Additionally, the presence of cysts, tumors, or other growths in the tarsal tunnel can contribute to the development of this condition.

Understanding the underlying causes of tarsal tunnel syndrome is crucial for developing an effective treatment plan. By addressing the root cause of the condition, healthcare providers can work to alleviate the symptoms and prevent the progression of the condition.

Causes Of Tarsal Tunnel Syndrome

Symptoms Of Tarsal Tunnel Syndrome

The symptoms of tarsal tunnel syndrome can vary in severity and can often be mistaken for other foot or ankle conditions. However, there are some common symptoms that are typically associated with this condition.

One of the most common symptoms of tarsal tunnel syndrome is a burning, tingling, or numb sensation in the bottom of the foot, including the toes. This sensation may start gradually and worsen over time, and it can be exacerbated by activities that put pressure on the foot, such as walking or standing for long periods.

Another common symptom is a sharp, shooting pain that radiates from the inner ankle down to the bottom of the foot. This pain may be worse at night or when the foot is in certain positions, such as when the ankle is flexed or extended. The pain can also be aggravated by activities that put stress on the foot, such as running or jumping.

In some cases, individuals with tarsal tunnel syndrome may also experience a feeling of weakness or instability in the foot or ankle. This can make it difficult to perform everyday activities, such as walking or climbing stairs. Additionally, some people with tarsal tunnel syndrome may experience a loss of sensation or feeling in the affected area, which can make it difficult to feel the ground or perform tasks that require fine motor skills.

It's important to note that the symptoms of tarsal tunnel syndrome can vary from person to person, and the severity of the symptoms can also fluctuate over time. Some individuals may experience only mild discomfort, while others may have more severe and debilitating symptoms.

If you are experiencing any of these symptoms, it's important to seek medical attention as soon as possible. Early diagnosis and treatment can help to prevent the condition from worsening and can also improve the chances of a successful recovery.

Diagnosing Tarsal Tunnel Syndrome

While the pain in the sole of your foot or the radiating discomfort towards your toes might scream "tarsal tunnel syndrome (TTS)," a proper diagnosis is key to unlocking the path to relief. Podiatrists, the foot and ankle specialists, employ a multi-pronged approach to pinpoint TTS.

First, a detailed history is taken, exploring your symptoms, activity level, and any potential risk factors like previous injuries or underlying conditions. Then, a thorough physical examination follows, focusing on tenderness along the tarsal tunnel and testing for signs like Tinel's sign (tingling or pain with tapping over the nerve) and weakness in the foot muscles. Imaging studies like X-rays or MRIs might be used to rule out other causes of your foot woes, but they're not always necessary for a TTS diagnosis. Electrodiagnostic testing, measuring nerve function, can be a powerful tool to confirm TTS by identifying nerve abnormalities. Don't let the technical terms intimidate you – a podiatrist will guide you through the process, ensuring a clear diagnosis and paving the way for effective treatment for your happy feet.

Treatment Options For Tarsal Tunnel Syndrome

Tarsal tunnel syndrome (TTS) can put a damper on your daily steps, but fear not! There are effective treatment options to get you back on track. Let's explore some approaches:

Taking it Easy: Rest and activity modification are often the first lines of defense. Reducing activities that aggravate the pinched nerve, like high-impact sports, allows for inflammation to subside.

Supportive Measures: Arch supports like orthotics can help distribute pressure more evenly across your foot, easing strain on the tarsal tunnel. Supportive footwear plays a crucial role too, providing stability and cushioning.

Calming the Inflammation: Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) can help manage pain and inflammation. In some cases, corticosteroid injections directly into the tarsal tunnel can offer targeted relief.

Physical Therapy: Stretching and strengthening exercises prescribed by a physical therapist can improve flexibility and foot mechanics, reducing the risk of further nerve compression. They can also help manage pain and improve overall balance.

Addressing the Root Cause: If an underlying condition like flat feet or a ganglion cyst is contributing to TTS, addressing that issue might be necessary. This could involve custom orthotics, shoe modifications, or even surgical removal of the cyst in specific cases.

When Surgery Steps In: In severe cases where conservative measures fail to provide lasting relief, surgery might be considered. A podiatrist will perform a tarsal tunnel release, creating more space for the tibial nerve and alleviating pressure.

Remember, early diagnosis and treatment are key to managing TTS effectively. Don't hesitate to consult a podiatrist if you suspect you have tarsal tunnel syndrome. With the right approach, you can walk comfortably and pain-free once again.

Bilt Labs Custom Orthotics

Tarsal tunnel syndrome (TTS) can be a frustrating foe, stealing your foot joy with pain and discomfort. But there's hope! Bilt Labs custom orthotics can be a powerful weapon in your fight for happy feet. Here's how:

Targeted Support: Unlike generic insoles, Bilt Labs orthotics are custom-crafted to your unique foot anatomy. This precise fit ensures optimal arch support, crucial for alleviating pressure on the tibial nerve in the tarsal tunnel. By properly distributing weight across your foot, Bilt Labs custom orthotics help prevent nerve compression, a key cause of TTS pain.

Combating Pronation: Excessive inward rolling of the foot (pronation) can contribute to TTS. Bilt Labs orthotics are designed to address your specific level of pronation, providing stability and control. This reduces the strain on the tarsal tunnel and promotes proper foot alignment, fostering a healthier environment for the tibial nerve.

Comfort Throughout Your Day: Bilt Labs orthotics are crafted with high-quality, shock-absorbing materials. This translates to a more comfortable walking and running experience, minimizing the impact on your feet and reducing the potential for further irritation of the tarsal tunnel.

A Personalized Approach: Bilt Labs takes the guesswork out of orthotics. Their convenient online process allows you to create custom insoles from the comfort of your home. With a detailed footprint analysis and a focus on understanding your specific needs, Bilt Labs ensures your orthotics are tailored to combat your TTS and get you back on your feet pain-free.

Beyond Relief: Bilt Labs orthotics aren't just a pain solution; they're a proactive investment in your foot health. By addressing the underlying mechanics that contribute to TTS, Bilt Labs orthotics can help prevent future flare-ups and keep you moving comfortably for the long haul.

Don't let tarsal tunnel syndrome steal your steps. Bilt Labs custom orthotics can be your partners in achieving lasting relief and reclaiming foot freedom. Visit their website today and take the first step towards pain-free days!

Bilt Labs Custom Orthotics


In conclusion, tarsal tunnel syndrome, while disruptive, doesn't have to sideline you from your active life. Early diagnosis, a combination of conservative treatments, and addressing the root cause can effectively manage TTS symptoms and get you back on your feet comfortably. Remember, a podiatrist is your partner in navigating the path to pain relief. Don't hesitate to seek professional guidance if you suspect TTS – with the right approach, you can walk with renewed confidence and conquer every step with happy, healthy feet. Take our free quiz today to find out which orthotic type is best for your feet.

Disclaimer: The information provided in this article is intended for general informational purposes only and should not be construed as medical advice. It is not a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always consult with a qualified healthcare professional before making any decisions about your health. If you have any questions about your health or are experiencing any medical problems, please contact your doctor or other healthcare provider immediately. Do not delay seeking medical attention based on the information provided in this article.