Treating Tarsal Tunnel Syndrome


Tarsal tunnel syndrome affects the feet and is similar to a condition called carpal tunnel syndrome that affects the nerves in the wrist. Both conditions create a burning and numbing sensation that can be painful and debilitating

The tarsal “tunnel” is formed by a conglomeration of tissues and is located adjacent to the ankle bones on the interior side of the foot. It is protected by a very thick ligament that shields the encompassed nerves, tendons, arteries, and blood vessels. The posterior tibial nerve is the largest of the nerves in the tunnel and is the one that most often becomes pinched, leading to a tingling and burning sensation in the foot.

Risk factors for developing Tarsal Tunnel trouble

The nerve compression that causes tarsal tunnel syndrome is more likely to occur in the following circumstances:

  1. If you have high arches - Having flat feet or high arches can cause a pronation of the heel during movement that can stress the nerve.
  2. If you have a systemic disease - Osteoarthritis, diabetes, and peripheral artery disease can create inflammation that compresses the posterior tibial nerve.
  3. If you have suffered an injury to the foot or ankle - Ankle strains and sprains may contribute to swelling around the tarsal tunnel which can create the conditions for nerve compression, pain, and discomfort to occur.

Treatments for tarsal tunnel syndrome include:

  1. Resting and icing - Applying ice to reduce inflammation, and resting the foot to encourage the healing response is essential.
  2. Custom fitted orthotic inserts - These specially made shoe inserts will correct any arch problems and decrease the extra movement that creates any painful nerve compression.
  3. Well fitted, roomy shoes - Always wear shoes that are comfortable and supportive and that have plenty of room in the toe area and extra space for orthotic devices.

At Fit Feet for Life, our team of board-certified podiatrists has access to advanced technologies and years of experience to help diagnose and treat a variety of foot and ankle problems, including heel pain, sports injuries, toe deformities, nail fungus, and plantar warts.  Bonnie Sanchez, DPM, and Gregory Cook, DPM, provide high-quality foot and ankle care to patients in the Tampa/St. Petersburg area at our five offices conveniently located in Sun City Center, Clearwater, St. Petersburg, and our two Tampa locations. Please contact us for more information or to schedule an appointment.