You’ve probably heard of carpal tunnel syndrome, a condition that causes numbness, tingling, and other problems in your hand due to a pinched nerve in the carpal tunnel of your wrist. The same sort of thing can happen to your feet, too. This time it’s the nerve running through the narrow tarsal tunnel of your foot that gets pinched.
Explaining Tingling Feet from Tarsal Tunnel Syndrome
The cramped tarsal tunnel, protected a thick ligament, has to provide passage for a lot of important structures—arteries, veins, tendons, and the posterior tibial nerve—through a confined space on the inside of your ankle. When internal or external factors press too tightly on that space, the nerve can be compressed, leading to sensations ranging from tingling and numbness to burning, shocking, or even shooting pain in the heel, arch, or even toes. Pain is often worse during activity or when standing for long periods of time.
Some of the more typical causes and risk factors include:
- Flat feet or overpronation—these conditions frequently cause an outward tilting of the heel, which can in turn compress the posterior tibial nerve.
- An injury, such as a sprain.
- Diseases that cause swelling and inflammation, such as arthritis or diabetes.
- A cyst or other obstruction developing in the tunnel
A variety of treatment methods are available to address tarsal tunnel syndrome, and are often used in combination with one another to achieve the desired results. The fundamental cause of the compression is also important to determine the best course of action.
For example, tarsal tunnel syndrome caused by excessive, repetitive stresses from an overpronating foot may be best addressed through a combination of rest and ice, oral anti-inflammatory medications, and custom orthotics or special shoes designed to provide extra support for your arch and restrict tilting of the heel. In some cases, we may need to temporarily immobilize your foot in a brace, boot, or cast in order to give the nerve time to heal.
Other conservative options may include ultrasound therapy, physical therapy exercises, injections of a local anesthetic or corticosteroid, and more. Sometimes diet modifications (such as reducing sugar intake) can help reduce swelling as well. Again, our full evaluation of your situation will dictate which treatments will provide the greatest benefit in your situation.
In more extreme cases, we may consider a more invasive procedure, such as surgical decompression surgery, to relieve the pressure.
Don’t Wait for the Help You Need
It’s important to seek out an experienced podiatrist as soon as you notice any symptoms. If the nerve is allowed to stay compressed for too long, it could be permanently damaged.
If you notice any tingling, burning, shocking, or shooting pain in your heels, arches, or toes, please give Carolina Podiatry Group a call today. Our expert podiatrists are here to help you overcome your discomfort, get you back on your feet, and prevent future recurrence or complications to the greatest extent possible. You can reach us in Lancaster, SC at 803-285-1411, in Fort Mill, SC at 803-548-3338, or in Chester, SC at 800-336-1279.