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A condition that we treat at Affiliated Foot & Ankle Care that many patients are unfamiliar with is tarsal tunnel syndrome. Below are some questions and answers to help you better understand this often common condition.

Q: What is tarsal tunnel syndrome?

A: Tarsal tunnel syndrome is similar to a condition that you may be more familiar with, carpal tunnel syndrome, which occurs in the wrist. Both conditions are the result of nerves being compressed or squeezed, which produces symptoms of pain, numbness, tingling, or burning.

Q: Where is the tarsal tunnel located?

A: The tarsal tunnel is found next to your ankle bone on the inside of the ankle. In addition to the posterior tibial nerve, it also houses arteries, veins, and tendons. The tunnel is covered with a thick ligament that protects the structures in the tunnel.

Q: How does the posterior tibial nerve get compressed?

A: The compression of the nerve can be caused by a number of different scenarios. Sometimes injuries to the ankle or systemic diseases, such as diabetes or arthritis, can lead to inflammation and swelling, resulting in the nerve getting squeezed. In other instances, an abnormal or enlarged structure may be taking up space in the tunnel, which causes the nerve to become compressed. These can include a ganglion cyst, varicose vein, bone spur, or swollen tendon. Patients with flat feet have a higher risk of tarsal tunnel syndrome due to pressure placed on the nerve from the outward rotation of the heel that is characteristic of this deformity.

Q: How will the podiatrist know if I have tarsal tunnel syndrome?

A: Our foot and ankle surgeons, Dr. Ben Gujral and Dr. Nrupa Shah, will start by examining your foot and ankle. Since tarsal tunnel syndrome can be caused by many different things, the foot doctor may order nerve conduction or imaging studies to try to determine what is causing the compression.

Q: What are the treatment options for tarsal tunnel syndrome?

A: In some cases, our podiatrist may recommend surgery to decompress the nerve. There are, however, a wide range of conservative options as well, including bracing, orthotics, injections, and physical therapy.

If you are concerned that you may have tarsal tunnel syndrome, schedule an appointment at our Edison, Monroe or Monmouth Junction office in New Jersey today by calling: 732-662-3050.