Tarsal Tunnel Surgery

Nerve compression can alter your way of life. Most people are familiar with carpal tunnel syndrome, which results when a nerve is compressed within the wrist. However, if you are among those who are experiencing nerve compression in your foot and ankle, you know how impossible it can make even performing the simplest task feel.

If non-surgical treatment has not alleviated your symptoms, further treatment may be recommended. Our foot and ankle specialists at Orthopedic Foot & Ankle Center in Greater Columbus can offer their expertise. If necessary, surgical treatment may be required. Schedule an appointment with us today!

Do I Need Surgery?

Visiting an orthopedic surgeon doesn’t mean that surgery is necessary. Our orthopedic doctors always prefer to use non-surgical procedures to treat injuries.

What Our Patients Say

I had a great experience with OFAC from the beginning of my diagnosis/surgery and rehab. Everyone was helpful and caring. The entire staff were very supportive during my process of healing. Thank you so very much.” — Sam R. 

What Is Tarsal Tunnel Syndrome?

Tarsal tunnel syndrome (TTS) is a condition that affects your foot and ankle. It occurs when your posterior tibial nerve, which is a nerve located just below a small bony prominence on the inside of your ankle joint (medial malleolus), has been damaged or compressed.

Your posterior tibial nerve runs through your tarsal tunnel, a narrow passageway in your ankle made up of bones and ligaments (including your flexor retinaculum ligament covering and protecting your tarsal tunnel). If you have TTS, you may experience the following sensations in your feet:

  • Sharp pain
  • Numbness
  • Weakness
  • Tingling
A woman with prior ankle trauma in Columbus, OH.

What Causes Tarsal Tunnel Syndrome to Develop?

A doctor examining a patient's ankle for tarsal tunnel syndrome.

There are several factors that can cause this type of compression in your foot and ankle, including:

  • Foot and ankle trauma that resulted in the development of scar tissue, which can add pressure on the nerve
  • A varicose vein (a twisted or an enlarged vein)
  • Swollen tendon
  • Bone spur
  • Flat feet/ fallen arches
  • Diabetes
  • Arthritis

Treatment for tarsal tunnel syndrome begins with conservative measures, including:

Surgical Procedures Used to Treat Tarsal Tunnel Syndrome

Tarsal tunnel release is a surgery used to treat tarsal tunnel syndrome. During this procedure, your doctor performs a nerve decompression (neurolysis) to relieve the pressure on your tibial nerve and reduce pain. Your doctor may recommend this decompression surgery if your condition is severe or long-term and has not responded to conservative treatment.

Additionally, depending on the severity of your condition, a minimally invasive surgical procedure may also be used to treat tarsal tunnel syndrome. During this procedure, small incisions will be made inside your ankle. Small instruments will be used to stretch out your ligament to relieve pressure on your tibial nerve.

What Happens During Tarsal Tunnel Release?

If you have traditional tarsal tunnel release surgery, an incision will be made from behind your ankle that extends down to the arch of your foot. The ligament will be released (cut), relieving pressure on the nerve in the affected foot. Once complete, your surgeon will close the surgical site, and your ankle will be wrapped in a dressing.

How Long Does it Take to Recover After Having Surgery for Tarsal Tunnel?

The average time for a complete recovery after having surgery for a tarsal tunnel is 6-8 weeks. Your ankle will be placed in a splint or boot right after your procedure. Since this procedure is performed on an outpatient basis, you will be able to return home once your surgery is complete. For the next 2-3 weeks, you will not be able to bear weight or only be able to do so partially.

Once your foot doctor ensures you are healing according to plan, you will be allowed to bear weight on the affected foot and gradually begin resuming activities. To aid in the recovery process, your doctor may recommend physical therapy. Performing the exercises taught during therapy can help you regain flexibility, range of motion, and strength in your foot and ankle.

The Risks and Complications Associated with Tarsal Tunnel Release

As is the case with all surgical treatment, there are some risks and complications, including:

  • Lingering pain after the surgery has been completed
  • Poor wound healing
  • Scarring
  • Infection
  • Nerve damage 

If you do not receive adequate medical treatment, your pain may persist. This condition can also eventually cause permanent nerve damage.

If you long for pain relief and/or have additional questions regarding this procedure, schedule an appointment with our Orthopedic Foot & Ankle Center experts in Columbus, OH today! We look forward to assisting you in returning to living a life you love.

Medically Reviewed by: Roberto A. Brandão, DPM, FACFAS

Our Tarsal Tunnel Specialist​s​


Board Certified Orthopedic Surgeon


Board Certified Orthopedic Surgeon


Board Certified, Fellowship Trained Foot & Ankle Surgeon


Board Certified, Fellowship Trained Foot & Ankle Surgeon


Board Certified Foot & Ankle Surgeon


Board Certified Foot & Ankle Surgeon


Board Certified, Fellowship Trained Foot & Ankle Surgeon
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