Summer Fun in RecoveryTarsal Tunnel Syndrome (TTS) is a condition that might not be as widely recognized as carpal tunnel syndrome, but it can be just as painful and debilitating for those affected. If you're experiencing pain, numbness, or tingling in your feet and ankles, you may be wondering if you have TTS.

At Barrington Orthopedic Specialists, our team of board-certified podiatrists (including Dr. Mahoney, Dr. O'Hara, and Dr. Patel) understand the complexities and importance of the human ankle. Our team is dedicated to providing not just care, but also education to empower our patients as they recover.

Schedule your first appointment with BOS today and get started on your road to recovery.


Join us as we explore the causes, symptoms, and treatment options for TTS, helping you to determine if this might be the root cause of your foot and ankle discomfort.

What is Tarsal Tunnel Syndrome?

Tarsal Tunnel Syndrome (TTS), also known as posterior tibial nerve neuralgia, is a condition that occurs when the posterior tibial nerve is compressed or squeezed as it travels through the tarsal tunnel, found on the inner side of the ankle. This nerve is a crucial part of the foot's structure, providing sensation to the bottom of the foot and controlling some of its muscles.

The tarsal tunnel itself is a narrow space that lies next to the ankle bones and is bounded by soft tissues. Inside this tunnel, the tibial nerve branches off into several directions, including the medial plantar nerve and the lateral plantar nerve, which are essential for the foot's movement and sensation. When these nerves, particularly the tibial nerve, are compressed, it can lead to symptoms such as pain, numbness, and a tingling sensation in the foot, affecting overall foot mechanics and mobility.

If not managed properly, TTS can lead to more severe issues, including permanent nerve damage. Therefore, early recognition and treatment are essential for preventing long-term complications and maintaining the health of the foot's structure and mechanics.

Symptoms of Tarsal Tunnel Syndrome

Tarsal Tunnel Syndrome (TTS) symptoms are primarily due to the compression of the tibial nerve within the tarsal tunnel, near the ankle bones.

Common symptoms include:

These symptoms, indicative of tibial nerve dysfunction, not only affect physical capabilities but also influence one's quality of life. Difficulty in mobility and constant discomfort can lead to the avoidance of physical activities, social engagements, and can even impact occupational responsibilities, leading to increased stress and feelings of isolation.

Acknowledging and addressing these symptoms early is crucial in preventing further complications and in maintaining an active, healthy lifestyle.

Causes and Risk Factors

Tarsal tunnel syndrome can arise from a variety of causes that put pressure on the tibial nerve within the tarsal tunnel. Intrinsic factors involve anatomical abnormalities or changes within the body.

For instance, flat feet cause the foot to outwardly roll, exerting excess pressure on the nerve. Similarly, muscle atrophy or degeneration around the ankle can diminish the support for the nerve, making it more susceptible to compression.

External pressures include any physical trauma to the ankle such as fractures, sprains, or blunt force that directly affects the tarsal tunnel's structure. Swelling due to injuries or systemic diseases like diabetes can also increase pressure within the tunnel, leading to TTS.

Risk factors heightening the likelihood of developing TTS encompass both lifestyle choices and genetic predispositions. Individuals with occupations that demand prolonged standing or walking, or those engaging in activities stressing the ankle, face a higher risk. Being overweight or obesity can additionally stress the foot structure. A family history of foot anomalies or TTS might also predispose one to this condition.

Recognizing these risk factors early can be critical for prevention and early intervention.

Diagnosing Tarsal Tunnel Syndrome

Diagnosing Tarsal Tunnel Syndrome (TTS) at Barrington Orthopedic Specialists involves a comprehensive approach to ensure accuracy and inform the most effective treatment plan. Here are the steps taken during the diagnosis process:

  • Patient History and Symptoms Evaluation: The initial step involves a detailed discussion about the patient's medical history, symptoms, and any activities or incidents that may have contributed to the condition. Understanding the onset, duration, and intensity of symptoms helps pinpoint the likelihood of TTS.
  • Physical Examination: Our specialists conduct thorough physical examinations, focusing on the foot and ankle. Specific tests, such as the Tinel's sign test, are performed to elicit symptoms and assess the tibial nerve's response.
  • Imaging Tests: To rule out other causes of the symptoms, such as fractures or soft tissue abnormalities, imaging studies like X-rays, MRI, or ultrasound might be recommended. These tools are vital for visualizing the tarsal tunnel's structure and identifying any potential compressions or abnormalities.
  • Electromyography and Nerve Conduction Studies: These tests are crucial for evaluating the electrical activity in the muscles and the speed of nerve signal transmissions, respectively. They can confirm if the tibial nerve is compressed and assess the extent of nerve damage.

By employing a combination of these diagnostic tools and techniques, the podiatrists at Barrington Orthopedic Specialists can accurately diagnose tarsal tunnel syndrome.

Early diagnosis is crucial for managing TTS effectively and preventing complications such as chronic pain or permanent nerve damage. That's why it's essential to seek medical attention if you experience any symptoms associated with TTS. Our specialists can create a personalized treatment plan to alleviate symptoms and improve foot function, helping you get back on your feet in no time.

Treatment Options at Barrington Orthopedic Specialists

Barrington Orthopedic Specialists (BOS) offers a wide range of treatment options for Tarsal Tunnel Syndrome (TTS), emphasizing a customized and patient-focused approach. Our goal is to relieve pressure on the tibial nerve, reduce symptoms, and restore function to the affected foot with the least invasive measures possible.

  • Non-Surgical Interventions

    For many patients, TTS can be effectively managed without surgery. Initial treatments may include:

  • Surgical Interventions

    In cases where non-surgical treatments fail to provide adequate relief, or when there is significant tibial nerve entrapment, surgical decompression may be necessary. The surgical procedure aims to open the space within the tarsal tunnel and release any structures compressing the nerve. Our surgeons are skilled in the latest techniques, ensuring a precise and effective intervention. Post-surgery, a tailored rehabilitation program is designed to optimize recovery and prevent recurrence of symptoms.

At BOS, we believe in a personalized approach to patient care. Every treatment plan is tailored to the individual's specific symptoms, lifestyle, and health needs, ensuring the best possible outcomes.

Our team of specialists is dedicated to guiding patients through every step of their TTS management, from diagnosis to recovery, prioritizing non-invasive treatments whenever possible to ensure minimal downtime and a swift return to daily activities.

Prevention and Management Tips

Preventing Tarsal Tunnel Syndrome (TTS) or effectively managing its symptoms often involves making sensible lifestyle adjustments, committing to regular exercise, and considering ergonomic improvements. Here are some tips to help:

  • Maintain a Healthy Weight: Extra weight can increase pressure on your feet, potentially exacerbating TTS symptoms. Aiming for a healthy weight through balanced nutrition and regular exercise can alleviate stress on the tarsal tunnel.
  • Choose Footwear Wisely: Opt for shoes with proper arch support and cushioning. Avoid high heels or shoes that are too tight, as they can compress the tibial nerve.
  • Stay Active: Regular, low-impact exercises such as swimming or cycling can strengthen the muscles in your feet and legs without putting too much stress on your feet.
  • Practice Good Posture: Whether standing or sitting, maintaining good posture can reduce undue stress on your feet and ankles.
  • Incorporate Foot and Ankle Exercises: Strengthening and stretching exercises for your feet and ankles can improve flexibility and reduce pressure on the tarsal tunnel.
  • Ergonomic Workplace Adjustments: If your job involves prolonged standing or sitting, make sure your workspace is ergonomically adjusted to reduce strain. For example, use a footrest if sitting for long periods to maintain proper foot positioning.

By incorporating these tips into your daily routine, you can significantly reduce your risk of developing TTS or manage existing symptoms more effectively.

Visit Your Podiatrist in Greater Chicago

At Barrington Orthopedic Specialists, we understand the complexity and discomfort associated with Tarsal Tunnel Syndrome (TTS). If you're experiencing foot pain, numbness, or any symptoms suggestive of TTS, don't hesitate to reach out to Dr. Mahoney, Dr. O'Hara, and Dr. Patel. Our team of highly skilled specialists is armed with the knowledge, experience, and cutting-edge technology to diagnose and treat your condition effectively.

Don't let foot pain hold you back. Schedule your comprehensive consultation with Barrington Orthopedic Specialists and take your first step towards pain-free movement.