What You Should Know About Tarsal Tunnel Syndrome

If you are experiencing pain between the bones of your feet, you might have tarsal tunnel syndrome. This is a condition that occurs with the nerves within the tarsal tunnel, which is the space on your foot that is between your bones and fibrous tissue. It can cause pain, discomfort, and numbness, among other things. Here is more information about this condition.

How do you get tarsal tunnel syndrome?

One of your first questions about this condition might be how it actually happens. With tarsal tunnel syndrome, the nerve within the tarsal of the foot has been pinched. Since this space is already very tight, it doesn't take much to cause a pinched nerve in the area. There are many different things that can lead to a pinched nerve of the tarsal, including a sports-related injury, excessive physical activity, or a foot deformity. It can also occur when there is a ganglion cyst, bone spur, or fracture of the foot.

What are the signs and symptoms?

If you have pain in your foot but aren't quite sure if it is due to the tarsal area, there are some signs and symptoms that can let you know. When you have tarsal tunnel syndrome, there is usually discomfort on the base of your foot and heel. This pain is sometimes a sharp pain, while in other cases it might actually feel like it is burning in the tarsal area. Aside from the pain, you might also experience an odd tingling and numbness sensation over the top or bottom of the foot.

How will a doctor diagnose it?

Since foot pain can often be confused with different types of conditions, you should see your podiatrist to find out if you have this condition. This is sometimes confused with similar foot conditions, such as heel spurs or plantar fasciitis. For diagnosis, your doctor will first ask about the pain and other sensations you have been experiencing, then they will perform a physical exam on the foot. For tarsal tunnel syndrome, there is a test called a Tinel's Test. The doctor will tap on the nerve in the tarsal and ask what you feel. If you feel pain or tingling when doing this, you likely have tarsal tunnel syndrome.

What are the treatment options?

The first phase of treating tarsal tunnel syndrome is reducing inflammation. This can be done by taking an anti-inflammatory medication that is either over-the-counter or prescribed to you. Not only does it reduce inflammation, but it can also provide pain relief. You might also get an injection of cortisone to further help with the inflammation around the nerve. You may need to wear custom orthotics (available from companies like Cotton Orthotic and Prosthetic) for a while until your condition has improved. If you still have pain, you can get a surgical procedure called a tarsal tunnel release. This will release pressure from the tarsal area of your foot.