Most workers today have heard of the condition known as carpal tunnel syndrome. While a few decades ago the injury was not well known or understood, now even those outside the medical community are aware it is a common and damaging workplace injury. However, many are still unaware that carpal tunnel has a sibling. This injury, known as tarsal tunnel syndrome (TTS), is very similar in cause and symptoms, but affects the leg and foot rather than the arm and hand. And though it is also a fairly common injury, lack of awareness about the condition among workers too often means that their pain goes unreported and untreated.
Like carpal tunnel syndrome, tarsal tunnel syndrome (TTS) is caused when a vital nerve becomes compressed. In carpal tunnel syndrome this occurs when a major nerve leading from the arm into the hand experiences an unnatural amount of pressure at the wrist. But in TTS, it is the tibial nerve which leads from the leg into the foot that becomes compressed at the ankle. The tarsal tunnel itself is a narrow opening in the ankle through which a bundle of nerves, tendons, arteries and muscles pass. While the tunnel offers protection to these delicate parts, there is also little extra room in this confined space. If illness or injury creates inflammation or swelling of the area, the tibial nerve can be easily compressed, leading to painful and debilitating symptoms.
Symptoms of TTS typically affect the areas of the foot and ankle, but can radiate into the calf muscles. Symptoms may include: feelings of burning, tingling, pins and needles or “shocks”; numbness or increased sensitivity; pain; hot or cold sensations; swelling and inflammation; weakness and/or loss of range-of-motion.
For workers, it is vital to determine what has caused their TTS before they can receive workers compensation benefits. Compression of the tibial nerve in the tarsal tunnel can be caused by a number of factors, including illnesses like diabetes, cysts or tumors, sudden injury and/or repetitive stress of the area. Work-related TTS can be caused by everyday occurrences like standing and walking on uneven surfaces; repetitive motion, such as work that requires you to constantly pivot, flex or rotate the ankle or foot. And falls or stumbles which sprain or damage the ankle or foot are common causes of TTS in the workplace.
Luckily, tarsal tunnel syndrome is often treatable. Depending on severity, treatment can include rest, medication, physical therapy and/or surgery. If left untreated, however, TTS may worsen, potentially leading to nerve damage, deformation, ulcers and infections, and/or permanent damage. If you have symptoms of TTS, contact your physician immediately. If you believe you have work-related TTS, contact a Chicago workers compensation lawyer who can help.
About the Author: Brooke Haley is a Marketing Associate at Millon & Peskin, Chicago workers compensation attorney that practice in the areas of Workers’ Compensation and Personal Injury. Millon & Peskin is a General Civil Litigation Practice with the goal of representing the interests of injured workers, throughout all applicable Courts in the State of Illinois. For more information about Illinois workers compensation lawyer,please visit www.millonpeskin.com.