TTS & Pain: Recognizing Tarsal Tunnel Syndrome - What It Is & When You Should See a Podiatrist

For being such a crucial part of the body, the human ankle is actually a very simple structure, containing only three main bones that create the very joint that allows you to walk, run and dance. Despite its simplicity, it is also one of the easiest areas to hurt, with ankle sprains accounting for nearly two million injuries reported to podiatrists in America each year. A small number of ankle injuries, however, aren’t sprains at all, but instead a more serious issue known as tarsal tunnel syndrome. We’ll be exploring this rare condition in greater detail, namely what it is, what causes it, and what you can do if you suspect that you’re being affected by it.

What Is Tarsal Tunnel Syndrome?

Let’s first explore the area that tarsal tunnel syndrome affects; the ankle, and more specifically, the aptly named tarsal tunnel. Due to its complexity, podiatrists divide the foot into three areas for the sake of easy conversation: The forefoot, the midfoot and the hind foot. The hindfoot, where we’ll be focusing, consists of the heel and ankle bones. On the inside of your ankle lies the tibia, which is attached to your heel via the flexor retinaculum, a thick band of ligaments. Together, these form a sort of channel, through which runs nerves, veins and arteries. One of these nerves, the tibial nerve, can become pinched with repeated pressure from various sources. Over time, this damages the nerve and results in severe pain, pins and needles or even loss of sensation in the foot.

What Causes This Painful Foot Condition?

You develop tarsal tunnel syndrome when the tibial nerve comes under constant compression, but this tends to be caused by other ailments such as: