Could Your Ankle Pain Be Tarsal Tunnel Syndrome?

The tarsal tunnel is located between your ankle bone and lower leg. It's a small channel that houses the tendons and nerves required for flexing your foot, but it can be damaged if it's put under too much stress. When damage occurs, you're foot will be less flexible and you'll experience ankle pain, but why does tarsal tunnel syndrome occur and what can be done about it? Here's an overview of the causes, symptoms, diagnosis, and treatment options:


Your tarsal tunnel can be put under too much stress as a result of repetitive foot movements such as using a sewing machine or driving for several hours each day. It can also be damaged if you experience a foot injury that causes swelling around your ankle as inflammation can squeeze the nerves in the tarsal tunnel and prevent adequate blood flow.

The nerves can also be compressed if your foot arch falls as this can pull muscles and ligaments out of alignment. Fallen arches can occur when you have a condition that erodes your joints, such as rheumatoid arthritis, or when you break a bone or tear a tendon in your foot.


In addition to ankle pain, you may experience shooting pain up your lower leg, which can worsen if you're on your feet for a while. Tarsal tunnel syndrome can also cause your foot to feel numb as a result of the increased pressure on your nerves. Additionally, the damage to your tendons and reduced flexibility of your foot can leave you feeling unsteady and you may go over on your ankle on a regular basis.

Diagnosis And Treatment

Tarsal tunnel syndrome can be diagnosed by a podiatrist who will take details of your symptoms and flex your foot to assess your current range of movement. They will formulate a treatment plan with the aim of releasing trapped nerves, restoring flexibility to your foot and strengthening your ankle.

They may recommend painkillers or anti-inflammatory medication to make your symptoms more bearable at the start of treatment and reduce the swelling around the tarsal tunnel. Your podiatrist can show you how to do gentle stretching and strengthening exercises, which are useful for loosening tight muscles and preventing a relapse of the condition.

Custom-made orthotic insoles can help your tarsal tunnel heal by altering the way your weight is distributed across your foot, which will take pressure off your ankle. If you have fallen arches, the insoles can be made to lift the arches and provide extra support. Your podiatrist will measure you for insoles and follow-up with you to ensure they are working as they should.

If you're experiencing ankle pain or inflammation, book a foot assessment with your podiatrist as soon as possible. Contact a company such as Morrison Podiatry Centre to learn more.