Tarsal Tunnel Syndrome

If you’ve suffered a previous ankle injury, you may be at risk of developing tarsal tunnel syndrome. You should consult your podiatrist immediately if you have shooting pains in the sole of your foot. Dr. Anant Joshi at Advanced Foot Care of NJ, LLC is dedicated to providing the best care for every patient. 


Tarsal Tunnel Syndrome: The Basics


Tarsal tunnel syndrome is a condition that is caused by damage to the tibial nerve. The tibial nerve is the main branch of the sciatic nerve. The sciatic and tibial nerve separate just above the calf. The tibial nerve runs down to the foot and passes through the tarsal tunnel located in the front of the heel. 


Damage to the tibial nerve is usually caused by repeated pressure to the nerve. While anybody can develop tarsal tunnel syndrome, patients who have specific conditions are at higher risk. These conditions include: 


  • Flatfoot

  • Arthritis inflammation

  • Unmanaged diabetes

  • Severe ankle sprains or breaks

  • Bony outgrowths in the tarsal tunnel

  • Varicose veins surrounding the tibial nerve


The Early Signs


While only a licensed podiatrist can diagnose and treat tarsal tunnel syndrome, you may play an active role in early detection. A timely diagnosis reduces the potential for permanent damage. 


Many patients with tarsal tunnel syndrome notice pain along the tibial nerve or in the bottom of their foot. This pain can increase in severity during physical activity and then subside when resting. Patients who have long-standing tarsal tunnel syndrome begin to experience pain at any time of the day or night. 


The levels of pain vary by individual. Many of our patients describe the pain as a:

  • Burning sensation

  • Shocking jolt 

  • Stabbing pain


Diagnosing Tarsal Tunnel Syndrome


Pain can be caused by a variety of issues that affect your feet and ankles. It’s important to recognize that pain is not a normal part of life. 


A few simple tests can diagnose tarsal tunnel syndrome. First, our staff will conduct a detailed physical exam and review your family history. These steps are critical to understanding the complete nature of your pain. If the podiatrist suspects that you have tarsal tunnel syndrome, he will likely conduct a Tinel’s test. This method gently taps along the tibial nerve and can quickly detect damage. 


While initial testing may identify tarsal tunnel syndrome, it may not be enough to understand the damage’s extent. Additional imaging may be required before Dr. Anant Joshi can develop a comprehensive treatment plan. 


Treatment


Tarsal tunnel treatment aims to relieve the pressure from the tibial nerve to heal and function properly. Dr. Anant Joshi may use several different treatment methods. 


Medication: There are many over-the-counter and prescription medications available to help reduce inflammation and relieve pressure on the tibial nerve. Work with your podiatrist to identify the best approach for your condition. 


RICE: The acronym “RICE” stands for Rest, Ice, Compression, and Elevation. Following these steps allows for reduced swelling and proper healing. This approach is useful for many minor to moderate cases. 


Surgery: If less invasive options are unsuccessful, you may be a candidate for surgery. Tarsal tunnel surgery is usually focused on releasing the tibial nerve from the ligaments that run near your heel. However, Dr. Anant Joshi’s approach will depend on your diagnosis. 


Schedule Your Appointment Today


Pain should not be a regular part of your life. If you have difficulty walking or standing, it’s time to schedule an appointment with Advanced Foot Care of NJ, LLC. Contact us today at our Woodland Park, NJ location to get started on your treatment plan!