Before discussing tarsal tunnel syndrome, you must first be familiar with tarsal tunnel. The tarsal tunnel is a confined space inside the ankle in between ankle bones. There are four different paths inside this tunnel. One leading to the heel called calcaneal, the other two leading to the bottom of the foot, namely medial and lateral plantar nerves, and the fourth one leading to the tibial nerve. A thick ligament protects this tunnel and maintains the structures inside the tunnel, one of which is the tibial nerve. This is a major artery and is the point of tarsal tunnel syndrome.
The tarsal tunnel syndrome, otherwise known as posterior tibial nerve neuralgia, is simply the cramming and trapping of the tibial nerve or its other branches as it passes through the tarsal tunnel. You will experience pain in the foot and ankle when you get this syndrome, specifically burning and tingling on the foot. In some cases, the pain can even occur in other spots such as the heels, calves, and the toes. Tarsal tunnel syndrome can be associated to carpal tunnel syndrome, which is the pain in the wrist. Both syndromes are caused by a compression of a nerve in a narrow space.
Causes Of Tarsal Tunnel Syndrome (Posterior Tibial Nerve Neuralgia)
You may be having tarsal tunnel syndrome when you feel a tingling in and around your ankles and when your foot is already swelling. This is most common in adults with active lifestyle but can also be experienced by children. You may feel more pain after standing for a long period of time, but will lessen if you take a rest. If you have flat feet, you are also at risk for developing tarsal tunnel syndrome. A single varicose vein can compress the nerve and thus causing this painful condition. Swollen tendon and ganglion cyst, among others, will also put you at risk of this syndrome. If you are overweight, your posterior tibial nerve will experience great pressure than it is supposed to and can also cause compression of the nerve. If you are diabetic or experience arthritis, you are also prone since these diseases cause swelling and compress the nerves.
There are quick remedies to treat tarsal tunnel syndrome. If your tarsal tunnel is swollen, you can put ice on it for 20 minutes until it subsides. If the compression is caused by inflammation, nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs will also be helpful. For severe cases, you may be required to wear a cast if necessary to allow the nerve and its tissues to heal. Surgical treatment may be necessary if pain persists and all else is unsuccessful.