Tarsal Tunnel and Illinois Work Injury Attorneys
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The tarsal tunnel is a narrow space located on the inside of the ankle, the bump located where the inner leg meets the foot. The tarsal tunnel is covered with a ligament that connects the bones and protects the structures within the tunnel, which include arteries, veins, tendons, and nerves. Tarsal Tunnel Syndrome (TTS) is caused when one of these nerves called the tibial nerve, which runs down the back of your leg into the tarsal tunnel and into your foot, becomes compressed and squeezed. This compression of the nerve in the confined space of the tarsal tunnel produces a variety of symptoms similar to that of carpal tunnel syndrome, which occurs in the wrist. However, TTS is far less common than carpal tunnel syndrome.
What Causes Tarsal Tunnel Syndrome?
Typically, anything that creates pressure on the nerve in the tarsal tunnel area can create TTS. Pressure and inflammation of the nerve in the tarsal tunnel can be caused by cysts, varicose veins, bone spurs, tumors, diabetes, and arthritis. Persons with flat feet or fallen foot arches can subject the area to greater than normal pressure and cause the nerve to be compressed. Injuries such as ankle sprains can cause inflammation in the tarsal tunnel areas.
Work Related Tarsal Tunnel Syndrome
TTS injuries can occur while at your job and are most commonly caused by spraining the ankle, such as when the foot unexpectedly twists or bends. For instance, a worker steps onto a sunken floorboard covered by carpet and twists his or her ankle. If you develop TTS during your job from ordinary, normal behavior such as standing and walking short distances, the injury will usually not be compensable under Illinois Worker's Compensation law.
However, repetitive tasks that are not normal behavior, for example walking on uneven surfaces at construction sites and railroads yards, can cause a work compensable injury. Another example would be that of a worker who installed clutches on machinery at a rate of one clutch every 45 seconds. The installations required the worker multiple times a day to pivot on her foot 90 to 180 degrees in order to retrieve the next clutch. The worker's treating physician opinioned that the pivoting and constant motion increased pressure on her foot and caused TTS. The Illinois Worker's Compensation Commission ultimately deemed the injury compensable.
What are the Symptoms of Tarsal Tunnel Syndrome?
Symptoms of TTS initially can include numbness and a tingling sensation. As the condition progresses, compression of the nerve can cause shooting pain, tingling and burning sensations that can be felt from the ankle down into the foot, heal, arch, and often extends into the toes. Sometime the pain and abnormal sensations can even be felt in the calf. Symptoms can start suddenly and are exacerbated during walking, running, and exercising. If the symptoms are left untreated, permanent nerve damage may occur.
Diagnosis of Tarsal Tunnel Syndrome
If you experience symptoms of TTS, a physician will take a thorough medical history to determine the cause of the swelling and compression of the tibial nerve. A physician, with his or her finger, may tap or palpate the area where the nerve is located to reproduce a tingling sensation (Tinel's Sign). A physician may apply pressure to the area to locate a suspected mass. Also, a physician may employ nerve studies conducted with electrical currents (electromyography) and nerve conduction velocity tests if initial tests, x-rays and MRIs are inconclusive as to the cause of the nerve compression.
Treatment of Tarsal Tunnel Syndrome
Usually, a physician will recommend non-surgical treatment before surgery is required. Non-surgical treatments of TTS include icing the area, resting the ankle, immobilization by cast, brace, or orthotic shoe (to alleviate pressure by slightly inverting foot), and use of non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDS), such as Advil or Motrin. Physical therapy may also be recommended. Non-surgical treatments are usually performed in combination with each other. More invasive methods include injections of corticosteroids or nerve block agents. Finally, if the TTS symptoms do not resolve, a physician may order surgical intervention to decompress the nerve and ultimately resolve the cause of the compression.
If your TTS injury is work related, your attorney should work on a contingency basis. This means that you will not pay any attorneys' fees unless you obtain a recovery. Under Illinois work comp law, lawyer fees are limited to 20% of what is recovered from a settlement. Also, your attorneys should advance all of the associated costs of the litigation. You should not be paying anything out of pocket. If you win, all fees, costs and expenses will come from the recovery amount.
Choosing an Attorney
We know numerous attorneys throughout the state who have great experience with workers' compensation cases. If you have acquired a TTS injury at work, any attorney that we recommend will have handled hundreds of repetitive injury and workers' compensation cases in past. This doesn't guarantee a result, but does give you the best chance for a successful result.
If you would like our help in finding a law firm in Illinois or have any questions, please contact us at (800) 517-1614. We will speak with you for free and do whatever we can to help you. All calls are free and confidential.