Tarsal Tunnel Syndrome (TTS)

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Not to be confused with carpal tunnel syndrome, tarsal tunnel syndrome is a painful foot condition that’s characterized by compression of the tibial nerve. There’s a narrow path between the ankle and ligaments known as the tarsal tunnel. Inside the tarsal tunnel are key nerves – including the tibial nerve –  responsible for generating feeling at the bottom of the foot. TTS occurs when the tibial nerve becomes compressed to the point where it’s no longer able to send and receive signals; thus, creating pain and a variety of other unpleasant symptoms.

The most commonly reported symptom of TTS is pain. An individual suffering from this condition may  begin to feel a slight burning sensation originating from the affected foot. Over time, this pain may grow more serve, creating the sensation of pins and needles stabbing through the affected foot. Unfortunately, pain associated with TTS typically doesn’t go away on its own – unless compression on the nerve is released.

Another symptom that’s frequently reported with TTS is numbness of the foot. When enough compression is forced against the tibial nerve, it will naturally prevent feeling in the foot. This is similar to the feeling you get when your foot goes to sleep. It’s not painful by any means, but it’s certainly awkward and uncomfortable. Numbness associated with the TTS typically occurs in the big toe and first toes, while the sensation of the shooting and burn occurs in the heel and base of the foot.

Diagnosing TTS is a fairly easily in today’s medical community. A professional physician, chiropractor or therapist will evaluable the patient’s history and medical records to determine whether or not a fracture is to blame. While some people may assume their pain is caused by TTS, the problem could be the result of a small hairline fracture. If this is a possibility, an X-ray can determine whether or not it’s the culprit.

Unfortunately, identifying the cause of TTS isn’t always an easy task. Since the condition is related to nerve compression, any type of excessive compression around the foot may cause it. This includes (but not limited to) bone spurs, cysts, tendon inflammation, osteoarthritis of the foot, sprained ankle, varicose veins, etc.  Identifying the cause of the condition is important to treating it, and preventing it from coming back later down the road.

Doctors report a higher rate of TTS in sports athletes, runners, and other people with high levels of physical activity. Constantly stressing your feet on a regular basis increases the chance of compression of the tibial nerve. Does this mean you should avoid sports and physical activity? Absolutely not, but you should wear a proper-fitting pair of shoes with excellent heel and arch support. Taking the time to care for your feet will help protect them from conditions such as TTS.

Call or email the staff at AtlantaChiroAndWellness.com to schedule an appointment.

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