Tarsal tunnel syndrome: diagnosis, surgical technique, and functional outcome

Foot Ankle Int. 1998 Feb;19(2):65-72. doi: 10.1177/107110079801900203.


During a 10-year period, 47 patients underwent surgical management for tarsal tunnel syndrome (TTS). Of these, 34 (36 feet) were available for complete retrospective analysis by record review, questionnaire, and physical examination. An additional 10 patients were evaluated by record review alone. The mean age was 38 years (range, 12-65 years). Overall, average follow-up was 35 months (range, 15-102 months). All patients had nonsurgical care for an average of 16 months before surgery (range, 1-72 months). The symptom triad of pain, paresthesias, and numbness was the most common clinical presentation. All had a positive Tinel's sign and nerve compression test (NCT) at the tarsal tunnel. Electrodiagnostic studies were abnormal in 38 feet (81%). Two-point discrimination was diminished significantly by an average of 6.7 mm. At a follow-up examination two-point discrimination improved by an average of 3.8 mm (P < 0.001). Eighteen feet continued to have a positive Tinel's sign and had a residual NCT. Subjectively, patients were satisfied with the surgical outcome in 72% of the cases. Postoperative improvement in the median Symptom Severity Score and the Functional Foot Score reflected this satisfaction. The perioperative complication rate was 30%. We conclude that the diagnosis of TTS is made primarily on history and clinical evaluation with electrodiagnostic studies supporting the diagnosis in 81%. Surgical treatment is warranted after nonsurgical management has failed. Division of the deep portion of the abductor hallucis fascia is important to ensure a complete release.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Child
  • Follow-Up Studies
  • Humans
  • Middle Aged
  • Patient Satisfaction
  • Postoperative Complications
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Tarsal Tunnel Syndrome* / diagnosis
  • Tarsal Tunnel Syndrome* / physiopathology
  • Tarsal Tunnel Syndrome* / surgery