What is tarsal tunnel syndrome and why is it different than carpal tunnel syndrome?

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Tarsal refers to the foot and carpal to the wrist. Both are an entrapment type of injury caused by wear and tear of the joint. So tarsal tunnel syndrome is a foot joint problem and yes it can be a result of the work environment, either from a traumatic incident or just repeated micro trauma.

For further information see Wikipedia, Tarsal tunnel syndrome or Foot Health Facts by FootPhysicians.com where they explain what is tarsal tunnel syndrome, the causes and symptoms or go to HealthCommunities.com to read, Overview, Tarsal Tunnel Signs and Symptoms.  The article from Foot Physicians is pretty good in that it describes that a person with flat feet is at risk of developing tarsal tunnel syndrome as well as an ankle sprain that can swell and put pressure on the nerve. Diabetes or arthritis can also cause the necessary swelling and nerve compression.

What are the typical symptoms of someone suffering from tarsal tunnel syndrome?

Workers suffering from TTS typically experience symptoms of "numbness in the foot, radiating to the big toe and the first 3 toes, pain, burning, electrical sensations, and tingling over the base of the foot and the heel. Depending on the area of entrapment, other areas can be affected. If the entrapment is high, the entire foot can be affected as varying branches of the tibial nerve can become involved. Ankle pain is also present in patients who have high level entrapments. Inflammation or swelling can occur within this tunnel for a number of reasons. The flexor retinaculum has a limited ability to stretch, so increased pressure will eventually cause compression on the nerve within the tunnel. As pressure increases on the nerves, the blood flow decreases.  Nerves respond with altered sensations like tingling and numbness. Fluid collects in the foot when standing and walking and this makes the condition worse. As small muscles lose their nerve supply they can create a cramping feeling."

Workers who suffer trauma to the foot or who are on their feet can develop this condition. It is covered by Iowa's workers' compensation act.


For more information about tunnel syndromes see:

Steve Lombardi
Iowa personal injury, workers' compensation, motorcycle, quadriplegic, paraplegic, brain injury, death
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