The tarsal tunnel is formed by the bony point on the inside of your ankle and the inside of your heel bone. The roof of the tunnel is formed by a fibrous or ligamentous type structure called a retinaculum.
Inside this tunnel are several structures one of which is a big nerve called the tibial nerve. Tarsal tunnel syndrome is when this nerve gets compressed (or squished) by the structures around it. When the nerve gets compressed, it can result in swelling, tingling, shooting pain, burning pain, or general pain and instability at the inside of your foot and ankle area. It can sometimes result in muscle weakness too.
Tarsal tunnel syndrome is caused by anything that reduces the amount of space in the tarsal tunnel and so compresses the nerve. It could be after trauma such as a blow or sprain, from overuse such as after a marathon, a very flat foot structure which puts strain on the surrounding tendons or less commonly by a space occupying lesion such as a tumour or swelling of sorts.
Treatment is aimed at eliminating the cause for the compression as well as managing the symptoms. This will help prevent recurrence.
What you can do from home:
- Ice the area several times a day for 5-10 minutes at a time to settle any swelling or information
- Rest your ankle where possible
Treatment from the podiatrist:
- Footwear advice
- Strapping to support your foot and ankle with or without in-shoe padding
- Therapeutic ultrasound to help increase the recovery rate by promoting healing and blood flow
- Foot posture and biomechanical correction using orthotics to prevent overuse and overstretching on tendons
- In some uncommon, unresponsive cases, you may require surgery and the podiatrist can help you with this process