What is Tarsal Tunnel Syndrome?
Tarsal Tunnel Syndrome (TTS) is known as a compression neuropathy (nerve disorder due to squeezing of the nerve) in the ankle and foot. It is similar to Carpal Tunnel Syndrome, which occurs in your wrist, however far less common. In Latin, “tarsal” means ankle, therefore Tarsal Tunnel Syndrome results from compression or damage to the posterior tibial nerve located in your tarsal canal, which runs through the small space along the inside of your ankle into the heel and sole of your foot. It causes a lot of pain in your foot, ankle and toes. This condition is slowly progressive and occurs more commonly after 30 – 40 years of age.
Often damage to your posterior tibial nerve in one location may affect the overall functioning of your nerve, so you are more at risk of suffering from compression in other areas along the nerve. The nerve sends signals along its length and also moves its own nutrients, which is necessary for optimal function. Nutrients move along the entire length of your nerve via axoplasms (jelly-like material that fills the cells of the axons). If the flow of these nutrients is blocked, your nerve tissue further from the area of compression does not receive the essential nutrients to fight off injuries, and your damage will get worse.
Other names and/or similar conditions:
- Tarsal Tunnel Neuropathy
- Entrapment Neuropathy Of The Tibial Nerve
- Posterior Tibial Neuropathy
- Compression Of The Tibial Nerve
- Posterior Tibial Neuralgia
Tarsal Tunnel Syndrome Anatomy
The tarsal tunnel is found between the thick, overlying fibrous tissue on one side of your foot and the underlying bones on your other side. The flexor retinaculum acts as the top of your tarsal tunnel. It forms a deep, band of fibrous connective tissue that surrounds the muscles and nerves in your lower leg and ankle. The top of the Calcaneus (largest tarsal bone that makes up the heel), the inner wall of the Talus (2nd largest tarsal bone that forms the ankle joint connecting the leg bones to the foot bones) and the inner/bottom part of the Tibia (shinbone) comprise the bottom of your tarsal tunnel. Your ankle and foot tendons, muscles, nerve, artery and vein pass through the Tarsal Tunnel to get to the bottom of your foot.
Your Posterior Tibial Nerve is found between the Posterior Tibial Muscle, the Flexor Digitorum Longus and the Flexor Hallucis Longus muscles in your lower leg/ankle. The Tibial Nerve moves behind the bump on the inside of your ankle (Medial Malleolus) and through the Tarsal Tunnel, where it then divides into nerve branches in the sole of your foot.
What is tenosynovitis and tendonitis?
Tendonitis means inflammation of a tendon.
(It is sometimes spelled as 'tendinitis')
Tenosynovitis means inflammation of the sheath that surrounds a tendon (the sheath is called the synovium). Tenosynovitis can be caused by calcium deposits, repeated strain or trauma, high levels of blood cholesterol, rheumatoid arthritis, gout, or gonorrhea.
These two conditions often occur together.