When it is Time for Tarsal Tunnel Decompression?

Robert G. Parker
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Dr. Parker is a podiatrist and surgeon in Houston, TX who has been helping patients for more than 40 years.

People love quiz and games shows. That’s probably why shows like Jeopardy and The Price is Right are still on the air after all these years. People love to test their knowledge and get prizes when they’re right. So it’s time to test your knowledge about foot pain—your prize is finally finding pain relief. Here’s the big question: When is it time to consider a tarsal tunnel decompression surgery?

Well, tarsal tunnel syndrome is a nerve problem in your ankle that can cause tingling, burning, or shooting pain in your ankle, heel, or midfoot. It develops when the posterior tibial nerve gets pinched or compressed as it runs through a structure called the tarsal tunnel. This is just what it sounds like—a “tunnel” formed by a narrow space on the inside of your ankle and a ligament that covers it.

Many different issues can pinch the posterior tibial nerve at this point. The key to alleviating the pain and taking care of the condition is knowing what to do next. In most cases, conservative care is all you need to decompress the nerve, eliminate the pain, and correct the problem. If the pain persists, however, the treatment you’ve been using clearly isn’t working. It might be time to consider surgery.

Surgery is a big step, however, and it makes many people nervous. How do you know if it’s the right choice for your condition? No two cases of tarsal tunnel are exactly the same, because no two people are the same. Whether or not surgery is right for you depends entirely on your feet and your needs. There are a couple good guidelines to consider, however:

  • Conservative Care isn’t Helping – You’ve tried all the noninvasive options, but nothing helps. Despite several months of care, you still have significant nerve pain.

  • There’s a Mass in the Tarsal Tunnel – Sometimes benign tumors or bone spurs can develop. These will need to be removed to alleviate your pain.

You don’t have to decide about tarsal tunnel decompression surgery alone—and in fact, you shouldn’t. The answer? The team at Parker Foot & Ankle!  We can help you choose the best option for your foot care. As lower limb nerve experts, we’ll be with you every step of the way. Contact our Houston, TX, office for an appointment through our website or by calling (281) 497-2850. 

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