What Is Tarsal Tunnel Syndrome?
Tarsal tunnel syndrome, which can also be called tibial nerve dysfunction, is an uncommon condition of misfiring peripheral nerves in the foot. The tibial nerve is the peripheral nerve in the leg responsible for sensation and movement of the foot and calf muscles. In tarsal tunnel syndrome, the tibial nerve is damaged, causing problems with movement and feeling in the foot of the affected leg.
Causes can involve pressure or an injury, direct pressure on the tibial nerve for an extended period of time, or sometimes is caused by other body structures close by or near the knee. It can also be caused by diseases that damage nerves (including diabetes). At times, tarsal tunnel syndrome can appear without an obvious cause in some cases. Those with flat feet are at risk for developing the condition, as the extra pressure and strain placed on the foot may compress the posterior tibial nerve.
Symptoms can include different sensations. An afflicted person may experience pain, tingling, burning or other unusual sensations in the foot of the affected leg. The foot muscles, toes and ankle become weaker and curling your toes or flexing your foot can become difficult. If condition worsens, infections and ulcers may develop on the foot that is experiencing the syndrome. Symptoms are primarily felt on bottom of the foot and/or the inside of the ankle. Symptoms can appear suddenly and may occur due to overuse of the foot.
A physical exam of the leg can help identify the presence of tarsal tunnel syndrome. Medical tests, such as a nerve biopsy, are also used to diagnose the condition. Patients may receive physical therapy and prescriptive medication. In extreme cases, some may require surgery.
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