Tarsal tunnel syndrome is a painful ankle condition that occurs when the tibial nerve is damaged or compressed. One of two terminal branches of the sciatic nerve, the tibial nerve runs through a narrow passageway in the ankle (the tarsal tunnel) and provides motor and sensory information to the foot.
In many cases, tarsal tunnel syndrome is an overuse injury caused by repetitive strenuous exercise or a history of ankle sprains or fractures. Other possible causes include high arches, flatfoot, bone spurs, ganglion cysts, and varicose veins. Some tell-tale signs of tibial nerve damage include pain, numbness, muscle weakness, and tingling sensations in the foot.
If you have symptoms of tarsal tunnel syndrome, a foot and ankle doctor can help you find the relief you need. You can consult with a board-certified, fellowship-trained orthopedic specialist at Premier Bone & Joint Centers in Casper, Wyoming.
Treatment Options for Tarsal Tunnel Syndrome
Mild-to-moderate symptoms can often be managed with home treatments, such as:
- Rest – By staying off your feet for a few days, you can avoid aggravating the injury and promote healing.
- Ice – A few times a day, you can apply an ice pack to the painful area for up to 20 minutes at a time to alleviate painful swelling.
- Compression and elevation – In addition to wearing a supportive ankle brace or wrap, you should elevate your affected foot above your heart whenever possible to help excess fluid to drain away from the injury site.
- Over-the-counter medication – You can take nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) as needed to relieve pain and inflammation.
Additionally, a foot and ankle doctor at Premier Bone & Joint Centers may suggest that you try a splint or cast to reduce pressure on your foot. Another option may be a custom orthotic to reduce stress on your tibial nerve by preventing your foot from rolling inward (overpronating). As your comfort permits, you can also perform a customized physical therapy regimen to strengthen the muscles that support your ankle. To address severe symptoms that do not respond to nonsurgical treatment, we may suggest steroid injections or surgery. For instance, a surgeon may widen your tarsal tunnel or remove a mass that is pressuring your tibial nerve if appropriate.
Whether you are diagnosed with tarsal tunnel syndrome or another musculoskeletal condition, you can feel confident entrusting your care to the experienced and compassionate team at Premier Bone & Joint Centers. Request an appointment at our Casper, WY, satellite clinic today.