Heel Pain – Tarsal Tunnel Decompression

Tarsal Tunnel Syndrome is sometimes descirbed as ‘carpal tunnel syndrome of the foot’.

This is not a bad analogy; the are both caused by pressure on the nerve as it runs through its fibrous tunnel.

However, whilst the median nerve in the carpal tunnel runs in a straight line, the tibial nerve in the tarsal tunnel has to make not one, but two sharp turns around the ankle as it enters the foot.

There are also a number of other structures that run with the nerve that can cause similar symptoms. This, coupled with the fact that nerve conduction studies are not as good at predicting tarsal tunnel syndrome as they are for predicting capral tunnel syndrome.

This means that it is often difficult to make the diagnosis of tarsal tunnel syndrome. As a result, often by the time the patient comes to surgery, the nerve has been compressed for a long time. This means it will take much longer to recover and occasionally doesn’t.

It is for this reason that surgeons are slightly more guarded about the success rates of decompression of the tarsal tunnel.