Tarsal Tunnel Syndrome

Foot Facts

  • Each foot has 26 bones
  • There are more than 100 ligaments in each foot
  • Diabetes is the #1 cause for lower extremety amputation
  • A toenail takes 4-9 months to completely grow out
  • Pain in the feet is NOT normal

Surgery: YES OR NO????

  • Deciding whether or not to have surgery is a big decision. 
  • Our foot and ankle surgeons are skilled in both surgical and conservative options. 
  • We will present the options most suitable for you and help you with your decision.

How much pain should I be in before I make an appointment?

  • Foot pain is not normal.
  • Foot pain is a signal that something is not right.
  • Any degree of foot pain warrants an evaluation to determine the source of the pain and possible treatment options.
  • Most foot pain left untreated will get worse and become more difficult to cure.
  • If you have foot or ankle  pain, make an appointment, do not wait.

Will soaking cure my ingrown toenail?

  • Soaking an ingrown toenail will often make it feel better, but it will not cure it. 
  • The symptoms of an ingrown toenail include pain, redness, and swelling.
  • An ingrown toenail is easily cured with a simple in office surgical procedure. 
  • The toe is anesthetized so that pain is not felt during the procedure.
  • The ingrown nail, or portion of the nail, is removed.
  • Most people feel no pain afterwards and return to normal activities the next day. 

What are orthotics?

  • Custom made foot arch supports designed to hold the foot in its optimum position
  • Can alleviate the discomfort caused by a number of foot conditions such as heel pain, bunions, and flat feet. 

Happy Feet...Happy Bride

happyComfortable footwear can help make the perfect day even better. Many times foot or ankle discomfort can be alleviated with appropriate shoes. It is not unusual for people to buy shoes that are too small for their feet. If your foot problem has an easy solution, our podiatrists will gladly provide you with that information. Sometimes the right shoe is not enough and custom-made orthotics is necessary to help the feet maintain the best position. Our podiatrists can utilize a three dimensional digital scan to have custom made inserts (orthotics) fabricated for your shoes, made from the scan of your feet to correct your specific foot abnormality and fit your feet only. If your foot or ankle problem can be resolved with conservative treatment, our podiatrists will advise you of the best treatment for you. There are times when the best solution for a foot or ankle problem is surgery. If you require foot or ankle surgery, our podiatrists can provide you with the latest state of the art surgical techniques. They will take the time to explain to you what to expect before, during and after surgery and will try to answer all your questions. Whatever your foot or ankle problem may be, our podiatrists will explain the various treatment options available to you. Everyone is happier when their feet are happy!

Thoughts on Celebrating 30+ Years

anniversarySome thoughts from Dr. Jacoby:
On April 30, 1984 I took over this podiatry practice. Elgin became my professional home as well as my personal home. I am forever grateful to Dr. Roger Hess who started this practice 50 years prior. Dr. Hess was a gentleman whom I admired and emulated both professionally and personally. I am forever honored to continue caring for the patients who initially trusted Dr. Hess.

My first office was at 860 Summit on the East Side of Elgin. I remember painting the office myself. I moved twice into larger space at 860 Summit. Eventually we outgrew the space there and moved to larger space at the Sherman Hospital Medical Building and then finally here to 750 Fletcher. I am grateful to the multitude of patients we have had the privilege of treating and that have kept us growing. I am also grateful to the multitude of other physicians in the area whom I am so privileged to work with.

Not only has this practice grown in physical space, but we have grown technologically as we offer many state of the art alternatives.  My staff has been and continues to be essential.  To all my staff, both past and present, I say a most sincere Thank You.

I look back on the years with much pride and sentimentality. I look forward to the future with the same enthusiasm and joy I felt on April 30, 1984. I love what I do and every day I realize how blessed I am to be in this wonderful profession!

What Is the Tarsal Tunnel?
TarsalTunnelThe tarsal tunnel is a narrow space that lies on the inside of the ankle next to the ankle bones. The tunnel is covered with a thick ligament (the flexor retinaculum) that protects and maintains the structures contained within the tunnel—arteries, veins, tendons, and nerves. One of these structures is the posterior tibial nerve, which is the focus of tarsal tunnel syndrome.

 

What Is Tarsal Tunnel Syndrome?
Tarsal tunnel syndrome is a compression, or squeezing, on the posterior tibial nerve that produces symptoms anywhere along the path of the nerve running from the inside of the ankle into the foot.

Tarsal tunnel syndrome is similar to carpal tunnel syndrome, which occurs in the wrist. Both disorders arise from the compression of a nerve in a confined space.

Causes
Tarsal tunnel syndrome is caused by anything that produces compression on the posterior tibial nerve, such as:

  • A person with flat feet is at risk for developing tarsal tunnel syndrome, because the outward tilting of the heel that occurs with “fallen” arches can produce strain and compression on the nerve.
  • An enlarged or abnormal structure that occupies space within the tunnel can compress the nerve. Some examples include a varicose vein, ganglion cyst, swollen tendon, and arthritic bone spur.
  • An injury, such as an ankle sprain, may produce inflammation and swelling in or near the tunnel, resulting in compression of the nerve.
  • Systemic diseases such as diabetes or arthritis can cause swelling, thus compressing the nerve.

Symptoms
Patients with tarsal tunnel syndrome experience one or more of the following symptoms:

  • Tingling, burning, or a sensation similar to an electrical shock
  • Numbness
  • Pain, including shooting pain

Symptoms are typically felt on the inside of the ankle and/or on the bottom of the foot. In some people, a symptom may be isolated and occur in just one spot. In others, it may extend to the heel, arch, toes, and even the calf.

Sometimes the symptoms of the syndrome appear suddenly. Often they are brought on or aggravated by overuse of the foot, such as in prolonged standing, walking, exercising, or beginning a new exercise program.

It is very important to seek early treatment if any of the symptoms of tarsal tunnel syndrome occur. If left untreated, the condition progresses and may result in permanent nerve damage. In addition, because the symptoms of tarsal tunnel syndrome can be confused with other conditions, proper evaluation is essential so that a correct diagnosis can be made and appropriate treatment initiated.

Diagnosis
The foot and ankle surgeon will examine the foot to arrive at a diagnosis and determine if there is any loss of feeling. During this examination, the surgeon will position the foot and tap on the nerve to see if the symptoms can be reproduced. He or she will also press on the area to help determine if a small mass is present.

Advanced imaging studies may be ordered if a mass is suspected or if initial treatment does not reduce the symptoms. Studies used to evaluate nerve problems—electromyography and nerve conduction velocity (EMG/NCV)—may be ordered if the condition shows no improvement with non-surgical treatment.

Non-surgical Treatment
A variety of treatment options, often used in combination, are available to treat tarsal tunnel syndrome. These include:

  • Rest. Staying off the foot prevents further injury and encourages healing.
  • Ice. Apply an ice pack to the affected area, placing a thin towel between the ice and the skin. Use ice for 20 minutes and then wait at least 40 minutes before icing again.
  • Oral medications. Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), such as ibuprofen, help reduce the pain and inflammation.
  • Immobilization. Restricting movement of the foot by wearing a cast is sometimes necessary to enable the nerve and surrounding tissue to heal.
  • Physical therapy. Ultrasound therapy, exercises, and other physical therapy modalities may be prescribed to reduce symptoms.
  • Injection therapy. Injections of a local anesthetic provide pain relief, and an injected corticosteroid may be useful in treating the inflammation.
  • Orthotic devices. Custom shoe inserts may be prescribed to help maintain the arch and limit excessive motion that can cause compression of the nerve.
  • Shoes. Supportive shoes may be recommended.
  • Bracing. Patients with flatfoot or those with severe symptoms and nerve damage may be fitted with a brace to reduce the amount of pressure on the foot.

When is Surgery Needed?
Sometimes surgery is the best option for treating tarsal tunnel syndrome. The foot and ankle surgeon will determine if surgery is necessary and will select the appropriate procedure or procedures based on the cause of the condition.