Some days you feel the weight off all your stress bearing down on you—pressing in until even your nerves seem ready to have a breakdown. Well, your nerves actually can break down, though usually their stress is caused by the physical structures around them. For anyone who has had the misfortune of experiencing pinched or compressed nervous tissue, you know the pain. Typically people picture this occurring in the back or neck, but those aren’t the only places it can happen. Your feet have nerves too, and when an important one in your ankle becomes trapped or pinched, parts of your feet can really feel the strain.
Feeling a Nervous Pinch
Tarsal tunnel syndrome is the uncomfortable compression of the posterior tibial nerve, which can cause a number of different problems for your feet and ankles. Your posterior tibial nerve is a long sheath that runs down behind the tibia and around the bump on the inside of your ankle to the underside of your foot. It runs parallel to a number of blood vessels and tendons. All of these pass through a “tunnel” formed between the bones and a sheet of connective tissue called the flexor retinaculum. Anything that stresses the structures that run through that tunnel—or the tunnel itself—can pinch the sensitive nerve.
Many different issues can compress that tissue. The way your ankle tilts inward when you have low arches stresses all the structures around the tunnel. A sprain can result in significant swelling and irritation in the tendons that run beside the nerve. Arthritis also causes inflammation and swelling. Varicose veins, cysts, tumors, and any other abnormal growths, functions, or movements that push against the tunnel and the long tissues it protects, squishing the nerve against the not-so-flexible connector designed to hold it in place. Whatever caused the original problem, you are left to deal with the unpleasant consequences. Tingling, burning, numbness, shooting pains, and even muscle weakness can manifest anywhere in the foot that is connected to your posterior tibial nerve.
Take a Load Off Your Nerves
Tarsal tunnel syndrome can be hard to catch when the symptoms arise. It is very important, however, that you have the discomfort examined and treated right away to prevent permanent nerve injury and pain. Dr. Noah Levine will examine your feet and ankles to determine what is causing your symptoms. He may request diagnostic images for a clearer picture of the structures in your ankle. Once he has determined that you have developed tarsal tunnel syndrome, you can begin treatment.
The most important remedy for the pain and damage is to relieve the irritation and compression of the nerve. You will need to rest your foot so that you don’t further aggravate the tissues around the tunnel. Your foot may need to be immobilized in a cast or brace as you heal to allow the irritated tissues a chance to relax and recover. The doctors may have you ice the affected ankle and take anti-inflammatory medications to help as well. Physical therapy can then assist you as you regain your strength and flexibility so that you are less likely to reinjure your ankle. Depending on the original issues that caused the problem, you may need to change your shoes or use orthotics to improve your foot function and take the stress off the tarsal tunnel area.
Your ankles and arches are strong structures. If you’re experiencing discomfort, tingling, numbness, or weakness along the inside of your ankle or the underside of your arch, it may not just be exhaustion or a normal injury--you may have pinched an important nerve. Rather than risking potentially permanent damage, contact the experts and take care of your lower limbs. Absolute Foot Care Specialists in Las Vegas can help you restore your feet to good health and strength. Visit our online contact page, or call (702) 839-2010 to reach us for an appointment or more information.