What is Tarsal Tunnel Syndrome?
Similar to carpal tunnel, tarsal tunnel syndrome (TTS) happens as a result of pressure on the tibial nerve which runs through the canal formed between the medial malleolus and ligaments on the inside of the ankle. Inside the tunnel are nerves, arteries and tendons that provide movement to the foot. Symptoms occur when there is compression of the tibial nerve. TTS can be caused by flat feet, swelling, diseases such as arthritis or diabetes or an enlarged structure such as a varicose vein or a benign tumor.
Symptoms of Tarsal Tunnel
- Shooting pain in the foot
- Numbness in the toes
- Pain or a tingling/burning sensation over the base of the foot/heel
- Ankle pain and sometimes cramping
- Pain or sensations worsening with prolonged activity such as standing or walking
How Can Physical Therapy Help?
In order to treat TTS effectively, it is important to complete a thorough examination of the entire lower extremity. Once the true cause is identified, a comprehensive treatment program can be initiated to reduce inflammation and improve any faulty lower extremity biomechanics.
Treatment Options may Include:
- Education about lifestyle changes (i.e. proper shoes, weight management program)
- Joint mobilization/manual therapy
- Proprioceptive/gait training
- Strengthening/flexibility exercises
- Home exercise program
- Modalities for pain and inflammation (i.e. ultrasound, iontophoresis, electrical stimulation, ice)
- Methods to alter faulty mechanics (i.e taping, orthotics)