Your tarsal tunnels are formed by your ankle bones and the bands of ligaments that stretch across each of your feet. And they really are tunnels, or canals, through which blood vessels and nerves you rely on for normal flexibility and movement travel.
When you have tarsal tunnel syndrome (TTS), a nerve within one or both of these tunnels is compressed. And the results can range from mildly bothersome to downright debilitating.
Take a few moments to learn more about tarsal tunnel syndrome, including common signs and how to find relief.
While anyone can develop TTS, it’s especially likely if you have chronically swollen feet due to a condition like arthritis or diabetes.
And while tarsal tunnel syndrome affects people differently, the most common symptoms include:
Your symptoms may flare up or get worse after you exercise or even just walk around. If the signs go unaddressed, they may continue around the clock. Without treatment, symptoms can also lead to permanent nerve damage and related complications, such as ongoing difficulty walking.
If you’ve noticed signs of TTS, Dr. Oexeman runs tests to confirm or rule out the diagnosis. Those tests may include an X-ray or CT scan. Conditions that can cause similar symptoms include bursitis, plantar fasciitis, and tendinitis.
If it turns out that you’re dealing with tarsal tunnel problems, your treatment plan may include anti-inflammatory medication or steroid injections. We may also recommend an orthotic device, such as a brace, to relieve pressure and limit movement that may be fueling nerve compression.
During symptom flare-ups, you may also benefit from resting, elevating, and applying ice to the affected area for 20 minutes, a few times per day.
If your symptoms are severe or fail to improve with conservative treatment, Dr. Oexeman may suggest a surgical solution. During tarsal tunnel release surgery, for example, she creates an opening behind your affected ankle and divides your ligament to reduce pressure.