Understanding Tarsal Tunnel Syndrome

Chronic foot pain has the potential to cause permanent injury and makes it hard to maintain your usual quality of life. If you’ve been experiencing ongoing foot pain and haven’t been able to determine the cause, you might have tarsal tunnel syndrome, or TTS.

Peter Bregman, DPM, the head podiatrist at Bregman Foot-Ankle & Nerve Center in Las Vegas, Nevada, is one of the world’s leading experts at treating TTS. Dr. Bregman explains the symptoms and causes of TTS, and how to heal the condition for good.

Understanding tarsal tunnel syndrome

You can think of TTS as being similar to Carpal Tunnel Syndrome. Unlike Carpal Tunnel Syndrome, where you’ll feel symptoms in your wrist, in TTS the symptoms are centered in your inner ankle.

TTS develops when your tarsal tunnel, the small area between your ankle and inner ankle bones, becomes compressed or confined. Without treatment, the compressed nerves can cause permanent nerve damage.

Causes of tarsal tunnel syndrome

There are a number of potential causes of TTS. Sometimes, your foot biomechanics, or how you move your foot and ankle while you walk or run, can cause a strain on the nerves. In other instances, your nerves can get compressed through swelling, extra soft tissue, or even a tumor putting strain on the area.

Certain conditions put you at higher risk of developing TTS. If you have diabetes, arthritis, flat feet, or a recent ankle injury, such as a sprained ankle, you’re more likely to get TTS.

Symptoms of tarsal tunnel syndrome

While symptoms can vary from person to person, the most common symptoms of TTS are pain, numbness, and a tingling or electric shock-like sensation in the impacted foot. When you experience pain, it can feel like a shooting pain in your foot and be worse at night.

You’re most likely to experience these symptoms on the inside of your ankle or the bottom of your foot. Some people will also experience these symptoms in other parts of their foot and leg, such as your knee, heels, or toe. 

Diagnosis of tarsal tunnel syndrome

Dr. Bregman uses his years of experience and advanced knowledge to make a clinical diagnosis of TTS. At your appointment, he examines your foot to determine the location of your pain and asks you to describe your symptoms.

In some cases, Dr. Bregman orders further tests to clarify your diagnosis. This can include EMG/NVC testing, which measures how well your nerves are working, and blood work.

Treatment for tarsal tunnel syndrome

There are nonsurgical and surgical treatment options for managing your TTS. After evaluating your foot, Dr. Bregman develops a treatment plan recommendation for your unique needs.

Nonsurgical treatment options

Initially, Dr. Bregman usually tries conservative, nonsurgical treatment to heal your TTS. In more minor cases of TTS, you can control your symptoms and promote healing by resting your foot and reducing pain by using ice and taking nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) to control pain and swelling. 

He might also recommend you wear supportive shoes or custom orthotics inserted into your shoes. Other times, immobilizing your foot with a brace or cast helps your nerve and tissues rest and fully heal.

In some cases, Dr. Bregman might refer you to physical therapy.  Dr. Bregman recommends a specialized kind of physical therapy called nerve flossing or gliding to treat TTS.

Surgical treatment options

When nonsurgical treatment hasn’t worked after six months, Dr. Bregman recommends a surgical solution to your TTS. Dr. Bregman is one of the leading surgeons in the world for TTS surgery, with an over 90% success rate.

Your TTS surgery is outpatient and only takes about 45 minutes for Dr. Bregman to complete. You’ll be able to walk and resume regular activities shortly after surgery.

If you’re experiencing chronic foot pain, tingling, or numbness in your foot, Dr. Bregman can help you at Bregman Foot-Ankle & Nerve Center, his Las Vegas, Nevada practice. Request your appointment online or call his office to get treatment from a leading TTS specialist.

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