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There are many causes for heel pain and the most common is plantar fasciitis. However, in some cases one can experience similar symptoms of heel pain when a nerve is entrapped along the inside of the ankle. There may be an additional sensation of numbness or burning to this area. Much like carpal tunnel syndrome in the hand, the foot has a similar anatomy where the tibial nerve can be entrapped in the same area as the plantar fascia.

Conservative management of tarsal tunnel syndrome includes finding the source of the irritation, such has having flat feet or over pronation. This structural deformity is corrected by custom made orthotics by a medical professional. If the source is due to other conditions, such as an excess of varicose veins that is wrapped around the nerve, then surgery would be the best option to decompress the nerve and ligating (tying off the veins) to relieve the pressure. Sometimes the plantar fascia will also need to be decompressed if it is next to the small nerve that branches off the tibial nerve. Sometimes there is a small soft tissue mass that may be pressing on the nerve and this would also need to be removed.

If you’re experiencing heel pain that does not go away with conservative treatment, find a specialist who may be able to dig deeper into the problem. It might be more than heel pain, it could be an entrapped nerve.

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