There are different causes of numbness, burning, tingling and pain in the feet. Often times we associate these types of symptoms with diabetic neuropathy or back related issues such as from trauma or arthritis which can cause a nerve problems. A condition called tarsal tunnel syndrome, or impingement, can also lead to the development of neuropathy-like symptoms.
The tarsal tunnel is an anatomic space on the inside of the foot/ankle. The tunnel serves as the space for several tendons, arteries and the posterior tibial nerve to pass from the ankle into the foot. There is a tight soft tissue band that covers the tunnel to provide protection and stability. This is the same kind of condition found in the hand with carpal tunnel syndrome where impingement of a nerve leads to pain and numbness.
Symptoms can arise from anything that would cause swelling or compression within the tunnel which in turn would push on the nerve itself and lead to the development of symptoms including numbness, burning, tingling and even pain in the ankle or foot. These symptoms can be limited to the ankle and heel but often times extend to the foot and toes.
Common causes include enlarged blood vessels such as varicose veins within the tunnel. A soft tissue mass such a a cyst or ganglion which takes up space in the tunnel and pushes on the nerve. Flat feet can sometimes contribute to symptoms by adding more stress to the inside of the foot by pronation causing pressure and strain on the nerve. Tendonitis leads to swelling around tendons and can decrease space within the tarsal tunnel which causes symptoms.
If you have any of the symptoms of tarsal tunnel syndrome it is important to get evaluated to determine the cause of your symptoms. The earlier a cause is found the sooner a treatment can be started and avoid any long term complications with the nerves. Conservative treatment can include proper shoes, orthotic devices or braces, anti-inflammatory medication, herbal supplements, physical therapy, rest and ice.
In some instances if conservative treatments are not sufficient a patient may chose to undergo a surgical procedure to relieve the cause. You should talk with your podiatrist to come up with a treatment plan together.
Taking care of your feet is important to your overall health. Be sure to see a Foot and Ankle specialist at the Integrative Foot & Ankle Centers of Washington located in Kirkland, Everett and Renton. Call (425) 678-3877 or visit our contact page to get in touch.