Last Updated: 6/1/2023
Very similar to carpal tunnel syndrome, tarsal tunnel syndrome falls into a category of disorders called musculoskeletal disorders, or MSDs, which comprise sprains, strains, tears, and other connective and soft-tissue disorders. MSDs may be related to poor ergonomics, repetitive motion or improper work practices. The United States Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that for the year 2012, in the state of Iowa alone, there were 3,700 cases of work-related MSDs.
What is tarsal tunnel syndrome?
The tarsal tunnel is a narrow opening on the inside of the ankle. This ligament tunnel protects arteries, veins, tendons and nerves, one of which is the tibial nerve. For various reasons, these ligaments can become inflamed and swollen, or there can be a bone spur or a cyst that can form within the tunnel. Regardless of the reason, the abnormality causes compression on that tibial nerve, which can result in significant pain radiating anywhere from the ankle all the way through the foot.
Symptoms of tarsal tunnel syndrome include tingling or burning that may feel like an electric shock, shooting pains and numbness. Sufferers of this disorder normally report that the pain increases after long periods of standing or walking. The affected area also tends to get more uncomfortable as the day goes on and can be extremely painful at night.
What may cause tarsal tunnel syndrome?
There are a number of medical conditions that can cause this disorder, as well as lifestyle and work-related practices that can lead to it. People with flat feet may be susceptible. Tarsal tunnel syndrome also can be caused by a bad sprain; standing for long periods of time, such as in a retail or service job; repetitive motion such as working a pedal or clutch; or excessive pivoting of the foot.
Is there a treatment for tarsal tunnel syndrome?
Fortunately, the answer is yes for most cases. After a physician has made the diagnosis through a combination of a physical exam and imaging tests, the patient is normally advised to keep the ankle immobile and apply ice when possible to control the swelling. Pain is generally managed with over-the-counter painkillers, and physical therapy is often prescribed. Sufferers should avoid any activities that aggravate the pain. Failing that, surgery may be necessary to relieve the pressure on the nerve.
Workers in Iowa who are injured while on the job or due to a repetitive workplace task are entitled to workers' compensation benefits. This includes medical benefits that cover treatment, as well as disability benefits that provide benefits while you are unable to work or if you return to work at lower wages than prior to your injury.
If you have tarsal tunnel syndrome caused by a workplace injury or occupational exposure and your employer is not taking your claim seriously or allowing you time off to heal, you may need to speak to a lawyer. At Walker, Billingsley & Bair in Iowa, we can help you get the workers' compensation benefits to which you are entitled, so call us at (888) 435-9886 to schedule an appointment.