The tarsal tunnel is a narrow space that lies on the inside of the ankle next to the ankle bones. The tunnel is covered by the flexor retinaculum, a thick ligament that protects and maintains the structures contained within the tunnel (arteries, veins, tendons, and nerves). One of these structures is the posterior tibial nerve, which is the focus of tarsal tunnel syndrome. This syndrome is similar to carpal tunnel syndrome, which occurs in the wrist. Both disorders arise from a compression of a nerve in a confined space. Tarsal tunnel syndrome is a compression on the posterior tibial nerve that produces symptoms (tingling, burning, numbness, or pain) anywhere along the path of the nerve.
Tarsal tunnel syndrome is caused by anything that produces compression on the posterior tibial nerve, such as:
- Having flat feet
- An enlarged or abnormal structure within the tarsal tunnel (i.e. varicose vein, ganglion cyst, swollen tendon, or arthritic bone spur)
- An ankle sprain that produces swelling near the tunnel
- Systemic diseases (such as diabetes or arthritis) that can cause swelling, therefore compressing the nerve
There are a variety of treatment options available, often used on combination, to treat tarsal tunnel syndrome: rest, ice, elevate, and compress, anti-inflammatory medications, immobilization, injection therapy, supportive shoes or custom orthotic devices to maintain the arch and limit excessive motion of the foot, and as a last resort surgery.
Call our office at 615-452-8899 or click here to schedule your appointment to have Dr. Mendoza develop the best treatment plan for your tarsal tunnel syndrome!