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Mon – Fri: 9:00 am – 6:00 pm
Sat: 9:00 am – 4:00 pm
Sun: 10:00 am – 4:00 pm

Book Appointment

Sign Up for an Appointment

Our simple to use, online booking process makes it easy to book an appointment with a chiropodist for any of our services. No referral needed!
Book Appointment

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Our simple to use, online booking process makes it easy to book an appointment with a chiropodist for any of our services. No referral needed!

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Tarsal Tunnel Syndrome: Carpal Tunnel In Your Foot

Carpal tunnel, but in your foot.

Tarsal tunnel syndrome is a relatively common foot condition that affects the ankle. Specifically, tarsal tunnel syndrome is the result of a damaged posterior tibial nerve.

Overview

Tarsal tunnel syndrome is the most common nerve entrapment of the ankle. It compares to carpal tunnel syndrome, the condition’s equivalent in the hand. Carpal tunnel syndrome occurs when the median nerve compresses. Symptoms include numbness, tingling and weakness in the hand and arm.

OK, back to the tarsal tunnel.

The tarsal tunnel is a narrow space on the inside of the ankle next to the ankle bones. The tunnel is covered with a thick ligament that helps contain its inner workings – veins, arteries, tendons, and nerves. Notably, the tibial nerve runs through the tarsal tunnel.

Tarsal tunnel syndrome occurs when the tarsal tunnel is compressed. Imagine your squeezing a casing of wires. The more pressure against the case, the more stress put onto fillings inside. In this case, those would be the nerves, arteries, and tendons inside.

Symptoms include sharp, shooting pain, pins and needles, or a burning sensation on the inside of your foot, close to where your foot meets your ankle. Some say that pain can be severe enough to cause a person to limp, and individuals may describe a radiating pain that cannot be localized to one spot.

Causes

Tarsal tunnel syndrome can result in pain because of direct damage to the tibial nerve.

The following can contribute to tarsal tunnel syndrome:

  • Flat feet: fallen arches and flat feet can stretch the tibial nerve;
  • Growths in the tarsal tunnel (bone spurs and cysts);
  • Varicose veins: can cause compression on the nerve;
  • Inflammation;
  • Osteoarthritis;
  • Overpronation: overpronating and inward rotation of the foot can strain the ankle and lead to pain in and around the tarsal tunnel. Overpronation can also stretch out the tibial nerve;
  • Improper shoes: small shoes can cause undue stress around the heel (and elsewhere) compressing the tarsal tunnel;
  • Ankle injuries: sprains, stress fractures, and other lower leg and ankle injuries can cause inflammation and swelling.

A medical professional can diagnose TTS (tarsal tunnel syndrome) through an exam, x-rays, or electrical testing. Typically, an MRI and Nerve Conduction Velocity test is done to diagnose TTS.

Often, there are numerous causes. Or, the cause is unclear. Runner’s World reports that about 50% of the time, a cause for Tarsal tunnel syndrome cannot be identified. In these cases, if a cause is not immediately clear, consult a doctor for more information.

Treatment

Tarsal tunnel syndrome can be managed effectively, especially if treated early.

  • Swap out your shoes: small shoes can put undue pressure on the inner ankle;
  • Custom-made orthotics: custom-made orthotics (which we do in-store) can help reduce the effects of overpronation;
  • Anti-inflammatories: swelling in the foot can lead to compression of the tarsal tunnel;
  • Compression socks: akin to anti-inflammatories, the goal here is to reduce swelling of the ankle and lower leg;
  • As a last resort, surgery is an option.
    • One such surgery is a tarsal tunnel release. In this case, the doctor “creates an opening behind the ankle that extends down to the arch of the foot. The surgeon carefully divides the ligament so it is not pressing against the tibial nerve.”

If symptoms persist or worsen, consult a healthcare professional for a proper diagnosis.

Prevention

  • Improve flexibility of the lower leg and foot;
  • Schedule a shoe fitting: finding the right shoes (and the right fit) is essential for the health of your feet. Small shoes can lead to tarsal tunnel syndrome. Additionally, ill-fitting shoes can cause a whole slew of other foot conditions;
  • Physical therapy and strengthening.
    • Heel raises
    • Calf stretches
    • Balancing exercises

Tarsal tunnel syndrome is the less-talked-about version of carpal tunnel syndrome.

If you feel a burning sensation or pain on the inside of your ankle or experience chronic ankle swelling, you may have tarsal tunnel syndrome.

For more information, and to schedule a shoe-fitting session or to learn more about custom foot orthotics, fill out the form below, or stop by the store. We’re located at 2481 Bloor St. West in Toronto.

Here’s to Many More Years of Foot Care!

At Feet First Clinic, we’re always excited to welcome new clients! After a successful 12 years of treating our amazing patients, we’re ready to continue offering only the best foot care services and products. Give us a call to ask our friendly staff any questions you may have! Our Toronto foot specialists are ready to help!

Call us at 416-769-3338 or Book Your Assessment Today!

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Emily

Administrative Assistant

Emily is the newest addition to the Feet First family. She assists with the clinic’s accounting and finances, as well as all the behind-the-scenes work that keeps the clinic running smoothly. In addition to her accounting smarts, she brings sunshine and positivity to everyone at Feet First Clinic.

Erica Halpern

Marketing and Administrative Assistant (She/Her)

Part of our administrative support staff, Erica also works behind the scenes writing and editing content for our website and blog. She loves researching and writing educational content to help patients and anyone dealing with pain. When she’s not busy in the clinic, you’ll find her at her local gym, exploring underground music, hiking with friends, or cheering on her favourite sports teams (Go Jays!). She also loves huskies!

Sophie Rudahigan

Clinic Administrator (She/Her)
Sophie prides herself on providing top-tier customer service. She is here to ensure a smooth visit for all clients. In addition to overseeing the clinic’s administration and day-to-day operations, she maintains the cosmetic appearance of the store. She is the magic behind our elaborate display case designs and also ensures the clinic is stocked with stylish (but still orthopedic!) footwear options for all ages.

Bianca Carter

CEO (She/Her)

Day in and out, Bianca works hard to ensure Feet First Clinic runs smoothly. Customer service is at the top of her list and she treats every customer like family. Bianca has a passion for fitness and is dedicated to helping people take care of their feet and body. There is no problem that she can’t solve and she believes that where there is a will, there’s a way.

Carolina Charles

Patient Relation Coordinator (She/Her)

If you’ve been to the clinic before, chances are you had the pleasure of meeting Carolina! Carolina’s daily goal is going above and beyond to make sure patients are always completely satisfied. Having worked in the podiatry industry for 22 years, Carolina brings a wealth of knowledge pertaining to client service, insurance policies, and procedures.​ She steers the ship to make sure everything runs smoothly on the daily. Carolina is known for spicing up every outfit with her signature costume jewellery.