Is It Plantar Fasciitis or Tarsal Tunnel Syndrome
Posted on Oct 26, 2022

Plantar fasciitis and tarsal tunnel syndrome can both cause pain within the foot and make mobility difficult.

However, they are distinctly different conditions, making their treatment options different as well. It’s important to know whether or not you have tarsal tunnel syndrome or plantar fasciitis so you can begin to take the first steps toward pain relief.

Tarsal Tunnel Syndrome or Plantar Fasciitis?

Let’s look at plantar fasciitis first. Your plantar fascia is a thin, webby ligament that connects your toes to the heel of your foot. As connective tissue, your plantar fascia works hard to absorb shock with each step and support the arches of your feet.   While thin, the fascia is very strong and acts to both stabilize the arch and store energy for each step.

When the plantar fascia becomes damaged or degenerated, it can result in heel pain that makes it difficult to walk. Risk factors for plantar fasciitis include being overweight, high or flat arches, having a tight achilles tendon or calf muscles, or wearing unsupportive shoes for long periods of time. These risk factors are not well-established as plantar fasciitis can strike any type of person with any level of activity.  

In the case of tarsal tunnel syndrome, this pain is the result of an issue with the tibial nerve, sometimes due to entrapment or compression of the nerve. This can lead to a burning sensation, numbness, swelling, or general foot pain. The nerve has a branch that goes right to where the plantar fascia resides. Often, this pain directly mimics the pain of plantar fascia.

Risk factors for tarsal tunnel syndrome include flat or high arches, masses and irregular growths, injuries to the ankle or other foot trauma. Pressure-sensitive nerves are a source as well. Pain associated with tarsal tunnel syndrome typically occurs after or during periods of activity. It can be worse at night and can be associated with muscle cramps or restless legs.  

This is different from plantar fasciitis, because pain typically presents with plantar fasciitis after periods of inactivity, due to the contracting plantar fascia. Both conditions will have pain with the first step in the morning.  

As you can see, these conditions vary greatly in their root cause, making it even more important to receive an official diagnosis from your physician. They can help you establish a treatment plan and understand your condition. You will need to find a physician that understands nerve pain.  

Natural Supplements For Pain Relief

In both cases, your doctor may recommend anti-inflammatories to help relieve pain. However, non-steroidal anti-inflammatories, also known as NSAIDs, can have negative side effects. We’d suggest mentioning natural supplements like Tart Cherry Extract to your doctor, to help with pain relief. 

Tart Cherry Extract works in the same way as NSAIDs, but in a much more gentle manner, to reduce inflammation. It’s also a great antioxidant supplement that can neutralize free radicals, reducing oxidative stress and low-grade chronic inflammation over time.

Alpha-Lipoic Acid (ALA) is another pain-relieving supplement that can reduce inflammation as well as promote healthy nerve function. As an antioxidant, ALA protects nerves from harmful free radicals, while fighting oxidative stress levels throughout the body.

How The Healing Sole Can Help

Although these conditions vary - The Healing Sole can relieve stress to the foot helping to reduce pain. The Healing Sole was designed for plantar fasciitis and combines several features to help achieve a natural stretch to the plantar fascia, while strengthening the foot and offloading pressure.

These features include a rocker bottom sole, compressible inner heel, non-compressible outer heel, appropriate arch support and a metatarsal bar. Although The Healing Sole cannot decompress the tibial nerve, it can help alleviate those painful pressure points and assist in recovery.