Are you experiencing a burning or tingling sensation, kind of like an electrical shock in the bottom of your foot or around your ankle bone? Is it accompanied by a shooting pain and/or numbness? If so then you may be feeling the effects of having your posterior tibial nerve squeezed inside the tarsal tunnel, or tarsal tunnel syndrome.
When patients come to us at Texas Foot Specialists with these symptoms, our podiatrists, Dr. Gregory Mangum and Dr. Bruce Miller, will start by taking a medical history and examining your foot. The foot doctor may attempt to reproduce your symptoms by tapping on your foot in a particular way. The podiatrist will also press on the area to see if any masses can be detected. In some cases, nerve tests such as electromyography and nerve conduction velocity studies may be ordered as well as imaging tests.
Cause and Treatment
Tarsal tunnel syndrome can have several different causes including:
- A mass or growth in the foot that is taking up space in the tunnel and thereby squeezing the nerve. This can include a varicose vein, plantar fibroma, swollen tendon, ganglion cyst or arthritic bone spur.
- Fallen arches or flat feet which exert pressure on the tarsal tunnel.
- An ankle sprain or injury.
- Diseases that cause swelling such as arthritis or diabetes.
Naturally, treatment will depend on the cause of the nerve compression. In some cases, changes in footwear or custom orthotics can help give support to the arch and relieve the squeezing. Anti-inflammatory and pain medication may be prescribed both to decrease inflammation and alleviate pain. In most cases the foot doctor will want you to rest the affected foot and may recommend immobilizing it to allow the nerve to decompress and heal. In some cases physical therapy may prove effective.
Sometimes the best option to relieve tarsal tunnel syndrome is an operation similar to carpal tunnel surgery done for the wrist. Removing a portion of the roof of the tunnel decompresses the nerve by allowing it more space to give and receive signals.
Without prompt treatment, nerve damage from tarsal tunnel syndrome can become permanent. That’s why it’s important that you contact our Houston (713) 664-6677, Sugar Land (281) 242-4448 or Pasadena (281) 991-0600 office for an appointment if you have any symptoms of a nerve disorder.