Tarsal Tunnel Syndrome
Another diagnosis used for chronic burning foot and/or toe pain is Tarsal Tunnel Syndrome. Tarsal Tunnel Syndrome is very similar to Carpal Tunnel Syndrome. The tibial nerve runs in a canal on the inside of the foot called
the tarsal tunnel. When the tibial nerve gets pinched here, it is called Tarsal Tunnel Syndrome. The symptoms described for this syndrome include pain in the ankle, arch, toes, or heel.
Chronic burning arch, toe, or heel pain is most often due to ligament weakness at the ball of the foot or soft tissue weakness in the arch of the foot, rather than pinching of a nerve as in Tarsal Tunnel Syndrome. The ball of the foot is called the metatarsal joint and supports half the body weight during walking.
Since these structures bear the bulk of the body weight when a person stands, walks, or runs, it is no wonder that these are generally the first structures to weaken. Metatarsal ligament weakness is manifested by pain at the ball of the feet which often radiates into the toes. This is called metatarsalgia.
A weakened arch causes the foot to feel weak and tired especially after a day of standing or walking. It can also radiate pain into the big toe side of the foot. Chronic metatarsal ligament weakness and arch weakness (also known as plantar fasciitis) can cause numbness in the foot and toes in the same areas of pain. Pain and numbness in the foot can also be caused by ligament and tendon laxity in the knee. The lateral collateral ligament can refer pain and numbness down the lateral side of the leg and foot and the medial collateral ligament down the medial side. Thus anyone with foot pain or numbness needs to have their knees looked at to see if there is any evidence of ligament weakness there.
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