Tarsal Tunnel Syndrome

Footech President

Jacques Martin, D.S.S., B.Sc., C.Ped.
President, Footech Inc., Certified Pedorthist

Tarsal Tunnel Syndrome

Tarsal tunnel syndrome is caused by the compression of the posterior tibial nerve that passes into the foot on the inside of the ankle. The posterior tibial nerve is the largest nerves and enters the foot via the tarsal tunnel then branches out like a tree as it extends towards the toes. The nerve supplies sensations to the bottom of the foot, and a burning or numbness will typically be felt on the bottom of the foot when pressure is applied to the nerve.

Causes of Tarsal Tunnel Syndrome

The most common causes of the syndrome are an adult onset flat foot, or a foot in which the arch flattens excessively when walking or running, which causes the nerve to become compressed or stretched. The syndrome can also be caused by ganglions, fibromas, and lipomas in the tarsal tunnel. Varicose veins may also compress the nerve.

Methods of Treatment

Treatment of the syndrome is aimed at correcting the overpronation or other biomechanical abnormalities leading to the compression of the nerve. Foot orthotics are used to correct to realign the foot and ease pressure on the compacted nerve. Calf muscle stretching may help to ease tension and strain on the ankle joint. Surgery is used to remove soft tissue masses impacting on the nerve. However, the surgical correction of tarsal tunnel syndrome in the absence of tissue masses has a low success rate.

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