What is Tarsal Tunnel Syndrome?
Tarsal tunnel syndrome is a condition where the patient suffers from symptoms like a burning or tingling sensation, numbness and a sharp, electric-type pain that radiates usually downwards from the inner side of the ankle. In addition, muscle weakness may be present.
The tarsal tunnel is a narrow space enclosed by bone and soft tissue on the inner side of the ankle. The floor of the tunnel is formed by the lower leg and ankle bones, while the roof consists of fibrous tissue. The posterior tibial nerve and its branches pass through this narrow space to reach the foot. In tarsal tunnel syndrome, the nerve or its branches get compressed due to direct pressure. The pressure may be caused due to trauma, systemic diseases or some other cause. Quite often, the cause is not known.
This condition is also called entrapment neuropathy since the nerve gets trapped in a narrow space, resulting in symptoms.
Symptoms depend on the degree of the entrapment and vary from person to person.
Diagnosis of tarsal tunnel syndrome is based on patient history, clinical examination, nerve conduction studies and imaging studies. Early diagnosis and prompt treatment prevent progression of the condition, which may lead to permanent nerve damage.
Treatment of tarsal tunnel syndrome involves either conservative measures or surgical procedures depending on the severity, origin and duration of the condition.