Tarsal tunnel syndrome


Tarsal tunnel syndrome (posterior tibial nerve neuralgia) is pain along the course of the posterior tibial nerve, usually resulting from nerve compression within the tarsal tunnel. At the level of the ankle, the posterior tibial nerve passes through a fibro-osseous canal and divides into the medial and lateral plantar nerves. Tarsal tunnel syndrome refers to compression of the nerve within this canal, but the term has been loosely applied to neuralgia of the posterior tibial nerve resulting from any cause. Synovitis of the flexor tendons of the ankle caused by abnormal foot function, inflammatory arthritis (eg, RA), fracture, and ankle venous stasis edema are contributing factors. Patients with hypothyroidism may develop tarsal tunnel–like symptoms as a result of perineural mucin deposition


Pain (occasionally burning and tingling) is usually retromalleolar and sometimes in the plantar medial heel and may extend along the plantar surface as far as the toes. Although the pain is worse during standing and walking, pain at rest may occur as the disorder progresses


It is difficult to determine the exact cause of Tarsal Tunnel Syndrome. It is important to attempt to determine the source of the problem. Treatment and the potential outcome of the treatment may depend on the cause. Anything that creates pressure in the Tarsal Tunnel can cause TTS. This would include benign tumors or cysts, bone spurs, inflammation of the tendon sheath, nerve ganglions, or swelling from a broken or sprained ankle. Varicose veins (that may or may not be visible) can also cause compression of the nerve. TTS is more common in athletes, active people, or individuals who stand a lot. These people put more stress on the tarsal tunnel area. Flat feet may cause an increase in pressure in the tunnel region and this can cause nerve compression. Those with lower back problems may have symptoms. Back problems with the L4, L5 and S1 regions are suspect and might suggest a "Double Crush" issue: one "crush" (nerve pinch or entrapment) in the lower back, and the second in the tunnel area


*Examination and electrodiagnostic testing Tapping or palpating the posterior tibial nerve below the medial malleolus at a site of compression or injury often causes distal tingling (Tinel's sign). While false-negative results on electrodiagnostic tests are somewhat common, a positive history combined with supportive physical findings and positive electrodiagnostic results makes the diagnosis of tarsal tunnel neuropathy highly likely. The cause of any swelling near the nerve should be determined


*Foot inversion, injection, surgery, or a combination Strapping the foot in a neutral or slightly inverted position or wearing an orthotic that keeps the foot inverted reduces nerve tension. Local infiltration of an insoluble corticosteroid/anesthetic may be effective if the cause is inflammation or fibrosis. Surgical decompression may be necessary to relieve suspected fibro-osseus compression with recalcitrant symptoms