Tarsal tunnel syndrome

Definition

Tarsal tunnel syndrome is a condition in which there is excessive pressure on the tibial nerve. This is the nerve in the ankle that allows feeling and movement to parts of the foot. Tarsal tunnel syndrome can lead to numbness, tingling, weakness, or muscle damage mainly in the bottom of the foot.

Causes

Tarsal tunnel syndrome is an unusual form of peripheral neuropathy. It occurs when there is damage to the tibial nerve.

The area in the foot where the nerve enters the back of the ankle is called the tarsal tunnel. This tunnel is normally narrow. When the tibial nerve is compressed, it results in the symptoms of tarsal tunnel syndrome.

Pressure on the tibial nerve may be due to any of the following:

In some cases, no cause can be found.

Symptoms

Symptoms may include any of the following:

In severe cases, the foot muscles are very weak, and the foot can be deformed.

Exams and Tests

Your health care provider will examine your foot and ask about your symptoms.

During the exam, your provider may find you have the following signs:

Tests that may be done include:

Other tests that may be ordered include blood tests and imaging tests, such as x-ray, ultrasound, or MRI.

Treatment

Treatment depends on the cause of the symptoms.

Outlook (Prognosis)

A full recovery is possible if the cause of tarsal tunnel syndrome is found and successfully treated. Some people may have a partial or complete loss of movement or sensation. Nerve pain may be uncomfortable and last for a long time.

Possible Complications

Untreated, tarsal tunnel syndrome may lead to the following:

When to Contact a Medical Professional

Call your provider if you have symptoms of tarsal tunnel syndrome. Early diagnosis and treatment increases the chance that symptoms can be controlled.


Review Date: 2/23/2017
Reviewed By: Amit M. Shelat, DO, FACP, Attending Neurologist and Assistant Professor of Clinical Neurology, SUNY Stony Brook, School of Medicine, Stony Brook, NY. Review provided by VeriMed Healthcare Network. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Medical Director, Brenda Conaway, Editorial Director, and the A.D.A.M. Editorial team.

This information should not be used during any medical emergency or for the diagnosis or treatment of any medical condition. A licensed medical professional should be consulted for diagnosis and treatment of any and all medical conditions. Call 911 for all medical emergencies. © 1997- 2007 A.D.A.M., Inc. Any duplication or distribution of the information contained herein is strictly prohibited.