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Tarsal Tunnel Syndrome vs. Plantar Fasciitis: Similarities and Differences

Both Tarsal tunnel syndrome and plantar fasciitis present with a significant amount of pain but differ in their exact array of symptoms. Here's how they differ

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By Babafemi Adebajo
Joel Taylor
Edited by Joel Taylor

Updated February 17, 2023.

Two of the most common causes of foot pain are tarsal tunnel syndrome and plantar fasciitis. Both conditions present with a significant amount of pain but differ in their exact array of symptoms. Nonetheless, both must be treated promptly so that the conditions don’t worsen.

What is plantar fasciitis and how does it differ from tarsal tunnel syndrome? Read on to find out.

What Is Plantar Fasciitis?

Plantar fasciitis is the inflammation of the plantar fasciitis, the band of tissue that supports the foot arch. Inflammation results from the overloading of the tissue suddenly, and the result is a sharp and burning pain at the foot arch and heel.

This pain usually worsens after rest and activity, and there is associated discomfort when stretching the foot. Other symptoms include redness, swelling, and tenderness.

What Is Tarsal Tunnel Syndrome?

Tarsal tunnel syndrome occurs when there is compression of the posterior tibial nerve in the tarsal tunnel. It can occur due to collapsed foot arches, swelling caused by ankle injury or disease, and bone spurs.

When it occurs, pain is characterized as burning or tingling and occurs beneath the ankle bone. Sometimes, the tingling sensation can extend to the heel, toes, or foot arch.

How to Diagnose Plantar Fasciitis or Tarsal Tunnel Syndrome

Accurate diagnosis is necessary for proper treatment to take place. To diagnose a person with either plantar fasciitis or tarsal tunnel syndrome, you need to take a detailed history and perform a thorough physical examination.

The differentiating factor is in the nature and location of the pain, as earlier stated. Ensure you seek the expert opinion of a doctor or podiatrist when trying to arrive at a diagnosis for your pain.