Extinguish the Fire in Your Foot

Do you feel a burning or tingling sensation across the bottom of your foot? Do you experience numbness, especially of the big toe and first two toes? You may have tarsal tunnel syndrome (TTS), a condition that occurs when the posterior tibial nerve is compressed within the tarsal tunnel, a confined space in the foot formed between bones and overlying fibrous tissue. Similar in mechanism to carpal tunnel syndrome in the wrist, TTS can make even simple everyday activities, such as taking a leisurely walk, an unpleasant challenge. We can help relieve TTS pain and restore feeling and strength to the foot and ankle areas. Resting the foot and taking anti-inflammatory medications such as ibuprofen may relieve pain and reduce inflammation.

In some cases, an anesthetic patch applied to the foot can also give relief from burning and pain, while a cortisone injection usually reduces both discomfort and swelling within 24 hours. Ultrasound treatment, moist heat applications and gentle massage of the foot, toes and ankle are also effective. Once the affected areas are soothed, you can begin an exercise regimen to improve flexibility in your calf and strengthen your foot. Rising up on the toes, walking and stair climbing are among the everyday activities that can be very effective when incorporated into an exercise routine. Because TTS often results from excessive pressure on the foot and ankle, the condition can be aggravated by an abnormal foot position such as that caused by flat feet. In cases of flattened arches, an orthotic device worn in the shoe can reposition the foot to provide more support to the arch and relieve undue pressure. Severe cases of TTS may require surgery, particularly if treatment has been delayed until symptoms worsen. However, a well-designed therapy program is usually very effective in treating TTS, and most people see improvement in just a few days. Once the foot has been rehabilitated, we can work with you on a maintenance plan of exercise and healthy foot habits to prevent recurrences. A physical therapy program tailored to provide you with relief and help with your recovery can begin to extinguish the fire. The earlier we can start exercise treatment, the less likely your problem will become chronic and the sooner you can return to the activities you enjoy. We will help you see the light at the end of the tarsal tunnel.