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Pinched Nerve in Ankle: Causes, Symptoms, Treatment, Exercises

A pinched nerve in the ankle is one of the simplest ways to describe tarsal tunnel syndrome (TTS). However, this condition is by no means simple. Tarsal tunnel syndrome or pinched nerve in ankle is a serious condition that has multiple symptoms, various causes and varying methods for diagnosis and treatment. This article deals in-depth with pinched nerve in ankle, its causes, symptoms, treatment and exercise with physiotherapy measures.

Bearing in mind that anyone is at the risk of developing a pinched nerve in ankle, it is worth knowing about the condition and its preventive and rehabilitation measures.

Pinched Nerve in Ankle

Pinched Nerve in Ankle – Tarsal Tunnel Syndrome

A pinched nerve in ankle, which is called tarsal tunnel syndrome or posterior tibial neuralgia; is a condition in which the tibial nerve is subjected to compression as it makes its way through the tarsal tunnel. The tarsal tunnel is located along the inner leg and behind the swollen bump on the inside of the ankle and the tibial nerve within this tunnel is vulnerable to damage due to compression caused by various factors. This tibial nerve compression and the uncomfortable symptoms resulting from it; is the essence of pinched nerve in ankle. Any damage or compression to the tibial nerve is not visible to the naked eye; thus it becomes imperative to recognize the symptoms of tarsal tunnel syndrome. Let us discuss in detail about pinched nerve in ankle, its causes, symptoms, treatment, exercises and physiotherapy measures.

What Causes Pinched Nerve In Ankle?

There are multiple causes of pinched nerve in ankle, which include the following

  • Severely flattened feet that compress the tibial nerve
  • Bony and benign formations within the tarsal tunnel can cause pinched nerve in ankle
  • Varicose veins concentrated around the tibial nerve causing compression on this nerve
  • Lipomas causing compression on the tibial nerve resulting in pinched nerve in ankle
  • Injury and trauma to the ankle area causing pinched nerve in ankle
  • Diabetes increases risk of pinched nerve in ankle due to compression for the tibial nerve

What are the Symptoms of Pinched Nerve In Ankle?

As mentioned before; many people around the world are afflicted by pinched nerve in ankle and this condition results in a number of varying symptoms. Symptoms may be mild or pronounced depending on how far the condition has progressed. Pain and discomfort is most pronounced while one is on their feet, walking or running. However, many people suffering from pinched nerve in adults for a longer duration; report discomfort and pain even while sleeping or resting. Many patients report gradual onset of symptoms while others experience almost immediate pain and discomfort.

Symptoms of pinched nerve in ankle or tarsal tunnel syndrome are as follows.

  • Sharp pain at the ankles and the base of the feet; including the heels
  • Tingling sensations around the ankles; most often described as the “pins and needles” variation of physical discomfort
  • Electric shock like sensations
  • Searing and burning pains along the feet

What is the Treatment for Pinched Nerve in Ankle?

Treatment for pinched nerve in ankle can be done at home in mild cases with the R.I.C.E method that involves resting, icing, compression and elevation of the affected ankle. This method offers immediate relief and can protect from further damage. Additionally, therapeutic exercises for pinched nerve in ankle and physical therapy can prove to be helpful.

Doctor Prescribed Steroids

At times steroid injections may even be prescribed by a doctor to reduce swelling and pain. This too is a commonly used treatment for pinched nerve in ankle. Customized shoes that provide padding and support to the affected ankle or immobilizing the affected foot with splints and braces to limit movement; may also be advised by a doctor.

Surgery for pinched nerve in ankle

In some cases a surgical procedure to relieve the tibial nerve of pressure becomes necessary. This minimally invasive surgery revolves around releasing the ligament and relieving the nerve. Surgery for pinched nerve in ankle may be necessary only in some cases that are severe or those which do not respond to conventional treatment.

Exercises For Pinched nerve in Ankle

Like most injuries; recovery from pinched nerve in ankle is accelerated with exercise and physiotherapy. Exercises for pinched nerve in ankle can help in faster recovery and protect from further injuries. Such exercises are best done under the supervision of a qualified physiotherapist who will emphasize on workouts that strengthen the tibialis posterior (one of the most important tendons of the lower limbs) and the peroneal muscles (group of muscles in the leg).

Some of the most effective exercises for pinched nerve in ankle include,

Ankle Inversion Workout with Applied Resistance – This exercise involves sitting on a chair with the feet planted on the ground. Once this posture is achieved the physiotherapist will apply pressure on the affected foot pulling it outwards; while the patient will fight against the resistance and pull the feet inwards and in turn flex and strengthen the ankle. The contraction is generally held for 5 to 10 seconds and this workout is repeated 5 to 10 times.

Ankle Inversion Workout with Resistance Band – This workout requires the availability of a resistance band. The patient has the affected foot fastened to a resistance band while the other end is attached to a stationary point. The patient then attempts to flex the affected foot inwards while going against the resistance put up by the band. This workout is best repeated 10 to 20 times from the start to finish position of the affected foot.

Walking on Heel and Toe – Simple walking on heels with toes pointed up; followed by planting the toes on the ground with the heels pointed up; at the end of every step taken, is a great exercise for pinched nerve in ankle.

In conclusion; the prognosis of pinched nerve in ankle is usually good when detected on time. Delaying treatment can lead to further damage of tibial nerve and aggravation of symptoms to a point where walking is difficult and the pain and discomfort is almost constant. With the knowledge of causes, symptoms, treatment and exercises of pinched nerve in ankle, it will be easier to seek timely medical advice.


  1. American College of Foot and Ankle Surgeons. (2021). Tarsal Tunnel Syndrome. https://www.foothealthfacts.org/conditions/tarsal-tunnel-syndrome
  2. Cleveland Clinic. (2017). Tarsal Tunnel Syndrome https://my.clevelandclinic.org/health/diseases/17745-tarsal-tunnel-syndrome

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Team PainAssist
Team PainAssist
Written, Edited or Reviewed By: Team PainAssist, Pain Assist Inc. This article does not provide medical advice. See disclaimer
Last Modified On:August 9, 2023

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