teenage boy getting his foot examined by physical therapist

Tarsal tunnel syndrome

Like carpal tunnel syndrome in the hand, tarsal tunnel syndrome happens when a nerve is compressed in the ankle.

Physical therapy for tarsal tunnel syndrome

Tarsal tunnel syndrome (TTS) happens when excess pressure is put on the tibial nerve, which runs through a canal inside the ankle.

If you’re experiencing TTS, you may feel shooting pain in the foot, numbness in the toes, pain or tingling over the base of the foot/heel, or ankle pain and cramping. You may also notice that your symptoms get worse with prolonged activity.

Physical therapy for tarsal tunnel syndrome is a practical approach to reducing the severity of symptoms and increasing quality of life.

Causes of tarsal tunnel syndrome

Tarsal tunnel syndrome can be caused by flat feet, swelling, arthritis, diabetes, varicose veins, or a benign tumor.

old woman with white hair balancing on one foot

Tarsal tunnel syndrome symptoms

Patients suffering from tarsal tunnel syndrome may experience the following symptoms:

  • Sharp pain in the foot or ankle
  • Numbness in the toes
  • Tingling or burning sensation in the foot or heel
  • Ankle pain and cramping
older female walking on treadmill next to male physical therapist

How we treat tarsal tunnel syndrome

The first step in treatment for tarsal tunnel syndrome is to complete a thorough examination of the entire lower extremity. From there, we’ll apply a wide variety of treatments to reduce pain or irritation and correct any issues. These may include:

  • Education about lifestyle changes, such as proper shoes or weight management programs
  • Joint mobilization/manual therapy
  • Proprioception/gait training
  • Strengthening and flexibility exercises
  • Home exercise program
  • Modalities for pain and inflammation (ultrasound, iontophoresis, electrical stimulation, ice)
  • Methods to alter faulty mechanics (taping, orthotics, nerve mobilization)
  • Dry needling
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What to expect

Your first physical therapy appointment is about creating a personalized treatment plan based on your health history, diagnosis, and goals. Here’s what you can expect at your first physical therapy appointment:

Your first appointment will last about an hour. Please arrive 15 minutes early.

If applicable, bring your physician referral or prescription, insurance card, paperwork, ID, and co-payment.

At your appointment, we’ll do an initial evaluation and discuss your care plan.

*Services are not available at every location. Visit our Locations page for more details.

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