Tarsal tunnel syndrome, also known as posterior tibial neuralgia, is a condition classified by chronic pain in the ankle and foot caused by abnormal pressure on nerve roots. It is similar to carpal tunnel syndrome that occurs in the wrist and hand. The specific cause of tarsal tunnel syndrome may be related to injury, disease or the structure of a patient’s foot. It results from the compression of the tibial nerve, which is located within the tarsal tunnel and is responsible for sensation around the bottom of the foot.
Symptoms of tarsal tunnel syndrome generally involve sharp pain, cramping, numbness and a feeling of tingling within the foot. The symptoms are usually worse after a period of time spent standing and better after rest.
Various methods can be used to confirm a diagnosis of tarsal tunnel syndrome, which typically include an examination, nerve conduction study or EMG and imaging tests such as an MRI scan. The condition often appears after there has been some form of pressure or inflammation in the tarsal tunnel, which may be caused by:
- A disease that can produce inflammation, such as diabetes or arthritis
- Swelling from an ankle sprain or similar injury
- Fallen arches
- Benign cysts or tumors
- Varicose veins (in rare cases)
- Bone spurs
Treatment for tarsal tunnel syndrome often involves the administration of cortisone injections. The injections are applied directly into the tarsal tunnel into or near the aggravated nerve. They are effective for many patients as the cortisone is very successful in reducing the swelling and thereby diminishing the pain and pressure on the tibial nerve in the tarsal tunnel.
Cortisone injections may offer weeks or months of relief from discomfort due to tarsal tunnel syndrome. Given in your doctor’s office, the cortisone injections typically combine a corticosteroid medication with a local anesthetic. The corticosteroid provides effective pain relief over a long-term period while the local anesthetic numbs the affected area and produces an immediate feeling of respite. A topical anesthetic may be used on the skin at the injection site to reduce the discomfort of receiving an injection.
At Allied Pain, our chief concern is assisting in providing you with the very best treatment plan possible to meet your personal needs.