Tarsal Tunnel Syndrome: An overview
As you might imagine based on similar names alone, tarsal tunnel syndrome is similar to carpal tunnel syndrome in the wrist — but tarsal tunnel happens in the foot. The tibial nerve gets pinched or constricted, and the ‘tarsal’ area (the lower ankle) begins to experience inflammation and pain. The entire tarsal tunnel area is full of nerves, blood vessels, and tendons. Restriction in the area is a major source of heel pain and foot pain.
Tarsal Tunnel Syndrome: Causes
One of the primary causes is pronation, which is when the arch of the foot collapses. This creates misalignment in your foot and leg, which leads to a host of heel pain and leg pain issues.
A more well-known cause of tarsal tunnel syndrome is arthritis, which causes inflammation in the joint of the ankle and leads to damaged nerves.
A third cause — and a common cause of many foot pain and heel pain problems — is obesity, or being significantly overweight. This increases pressure on the lower third of your body for support purposes and can lead to a number of issues around foot pain.
A final major cause of tarsal tunnel syndrome is heel spurs, or an abnormal growth of the heel bone. Calcium deposits form when the plantar fascia pulls away from the heel area. The bony protrusion that develops is a heel spur. This causes you to change the way you walk to prevent discomfort and that, in turn, can lead to a pinching of the tibial nerve.
Tarsal Tunnel Syndrome: Treatments
Treatments can vary, but some of the more common include:
- Healthier diet (this helps with the obesity cause)
- Simple rest
- Cortisone injections
- Physical therapy
- Tarsal tunnel surgery
Tarsal Tunnel Syndrome and Orthotics
Orthotics are simple devices inserted into your shoe to add support to the foot, heel, and ankle — which in turn reduces heel pain, ankle pain, toe pain, and other assorted foot problems.
At Heel That Pain, we’ve developed Heel Seats — a type of orthotic — which allow for overall reinforcement of the foot and also help to treat heel spurs. We’ve actually seen a 99.7% success rate with Heel Seats, including from major physicians and athletes such as Jason Kidd. They are particularly effective for tarsal tunnel syndrome.