Numbness in HeelTraditionally patients that experience heel pain have the common medical problem known as plantar fasciitis. However, there are several other foot related injuries that could be the cause of your heel pain. One of these conditions is called tarsal tunnel syndrome. Those who have this problem usually experience heel pain accompanied with numbness in the foot.
The Tarsal TunnelThe tarsal tunnel is a small narrow space located on the inside of the ankle of bones. A thick ligament covers the tarsal tunnel. This ligament protects the tunnel and helps maintain the structures contained in the tunnel (arteries, veins, tendons, and nerves). The posterior tibial nerve is the main nerve in the tunnel and the focus of the heel pain and numbness that result from tarsal tunnel syndrome.
Tarsal Tunnel SyndromeWhen tarsal tunnel syndrome occurs, compression or squeezing of the posterior tibial nerve takes place. Basically, it is very similar to carpal tunnel syndrome. In both conditions a nerve is compressed in a confined space. And the result of compression in the tarsal tunnel is usually heel pain followed by numbness.
CausesCertain circumstances can cause tarsal tunnel syndrome. Individuals that have flat feet are more at risk for developing this condition because their heels tilt outward, creating strain and compression on the nerve. In addition, there are times when a large, abnormal structure could occupy the space and cause pressure. Examples include varicose veins, ganglion cyst, swollen tendon, and arthritic bone spur. Ankle injuries could also cause this problem because of the inflammation they create near the tunnel. Lastly, diseases that cause swelling like diabetes or arthritis can cause this problem.
SymptomsIn addition to heel pain and numbness, there are other symptoms to be aware of in terms of tarsal tunnel syndrome. In addition to numbness, patients often experience tingling, burning, and sensations that are similar to an electric shock. Also many describe pain to feel like "shooting pain".
TreatmentFortunately there are several non-surgical methods to treat the heel pain and numbness associated with tarsal tunnel syndrome. Obviously, resting is key. In addition, ice is recommended. Lastly, specific shoes or bracings might be necessary to support the foot and prevent future loss of feeling in the foot.
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