Tarsal tunnel syndrome

6The tarsal tunnel is a narrow passageway bound by bone and soft tissue that lies on the inside of the ankle in females

Medical Park Goztepe Hospital Complex Physical Therapy and Rehabilitation Specialist Dr. Ruhsan Cihan informs about Tarsal tunnel syndrome.

Tarsal tunnel syndrome is a rare disorder caused by damage to the tibial nerve or its branches, usually due to compression as it passes through the tarsal tunnel (entrapment neuropathy). The tarsal tunnel is a narrow passageway bound by bone and soft tissue that lies on the inside of the ankle. The tibial nerve (as well as certain blood vessels and tendons) passes through the tarsal tunnel. However, the term tarsal tunnel syndrome is often broadly applied to any pain along the tibial nerve, which can result from a multitude of causes. Individuals with tarsal tunnel syndrome may experience pain, burning, or a tingling sensation along the tibial nerve.

The specific symptoms of tarsal tunnel syndrome can vary from one person to another. In some cases, symptoms can develop suddenly, and in others gradually. Some affected individuals may experience a sharp, shooting pain along the tibial nerve. This nerve branches off from the sciatic nerve and runs down the lower leg to the ankle and then the foot. Pain can be severe enough to cause a person to limp. Affected individuals may describe a radiating pain that cannot be localized to one spot. In addition to or instead of pain, affected individuals may experience numbness of the affected area or a burning or tingling sensation (paresthesia), which is often described as similar to “pins and needles”.

Related Disorders

Symptoms of the following disorders can be similar to those of tarsal tunnel syndrome. Comparisons may be useful for a differential diagnosis. Plantar fasciitis is a common condition characterized by inflammation of the thick band of tissue which runs along the bottom of the foot (plantar fascia). The plantar fascia supports the arch of the foot and acts as a shock absorber. Plantar fasciitis is a common cause of heel pain and is often described as a sharp pain in the heel.

MRI is need for diagnosis

Additional tests that may be performed include electromyography and magnetic resonance imaging (MRI). Electromyography is a test that can determine the health of muscles and nerves and can detect nerve dysfunction. An MRI uses a magnetic field and radio waves to produce cross-sectional images particular organs and bodily tissues and may be used if a space-occupying is the suspected cause of tarsal tunnel syndrome or to detect if the nerve is irritated.