Tarsal Tunnel Syndrome arises when the tibial nerve, which travels through the tarsal tunnel in the ankle, is compressed. This compression can result in foot and ankle discomfort, numbness, tingling, and weakness. The tarsal tunnel is a thin space produced by bones, ligaments, and other tissues on the medial (inside) side of the ankle. The tibial nerve is one of the nerves that goes down the leg from the sciatic nerve in the lumbar spine. It splits into two branches, the medial and lateral plantar nerves, which supply sensation and movement to the foot and ankle. When the tibial nerve is crushed within the tarsal tunnel, it can damage the nerve fibers and induce Tarsal Tunnel Syndrome symptoms.
Tarsal Tunnel Syndrome can be caused by several factors, including:
- Ankle trauma or injury can produce inflammation or edema inside the tarsal tunnel, resulting in tibial nerve compression.
- Arthritis: Arthritic inflammation can also induce tibial nerve compression inside the tarsal tunnel.
- Cysts or tumors: Growth of cysts or tumors within the tarsal tunnel can potentially induce tibial nerve compression.
- Varicose veins in the leg can create increased pressure within the tarsal tunnel, resulting in tibial nerve compression.
- Underlying medical conditions: Diabetes, for example, can induce nerve injury and raise the risk of Tarsal Tunnel Syndrome.
Tarsal Tunnel Syndrome symptoms include foot and ankle discomfort, numbness, tingling, and weakness. The pain is typically characterized as a scorching or shooting feeling that might be confined to the ankle or spread down the foot. Numbness and tingling are often felt on the bottom of the foot, and weakness can impair movement of the foot and ankle.
Physical therapy, medicines, and, in rare circumstances, surgery are all possibilities for treating Tarsal Tunnel Syndrome. Physical therapy can aid in the reduction of inflammation and edema, as well as the improvement of strength and flexibility in the foot and ankle. Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory medications (NSAIDs) and corticosteroids can also be used to treat pain and inflammation. Surgery may be required in extreme situations to release the compressed nerve and relieve symptoms.
Physical therapy is an excellent method for reducing pain and inflammation, as well as improving strength and flexibility in the foot and ankle. Stretching, strengthening, and range-of-motion exercises are examples of physical therapy exercises. Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory medicines (NSAIDs) and corticosteroids are two medications that can be used to treat pain and inflammation.
When conservative treatment approaches fail, surgery may be required in rare circumstances. Tarsal Tunnel Syndrome can be treated with surgery to free the compressed nerve, known as a tarsal tunnel release. A tiny incision on the inner side of the ankle is made, and the ligament that forms the ceiling of the tarsal tunnel is divided to allow greater space for the tibial nerve. Physical therapy is frequently suggested following surgery to aid healing and avoid recurrence of problems. It is crucial to remember that recuperation time following surgery might range from several weeks to many months. Although surgery has a high success rate, symptoms may remain or reoccur in certain patients.
Tarsal Tunnel Syndrome can be avoided by taking preventive steps. Wearing suitable footwear that provides foot and ankle support can assist to lessen the risk of injury. Tarsal Tunnel Syndrome may be avoided by keeping the foot and ankle in excellent shape by frequent exercise and stretching.