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Sinus Tarsi Syndrome: The Eye of the Foot

Phrases such as “eye of the storm” and “eye of a needle” are common in our day-to-day conversation, but have you ever heard of the “eye of the foot?” This is the layman’s term for the sinus tarsi—the hole that is between the heel bone and the ankle bone. Ligaments and soft tissue are present in this space that leads to the subtalar joint. While you might never know it exists, an ankle injury can bring it into focus quickly.

An accident or sports injury that results in the ankle rolling outward or extreme over-pronation can both lead to Sinus Tarsi Syndrome (STS). The results are discomfort and loss of stability in the affected ankle. The ligaments in this area are injured, which leads to feelings of looseness. This is often particularly noticeable when navigating surfaces that are uneven. Interestingly, it was Denis O’Connor who first highlighted this condition in 1957 and formulated a procedure to address it. Today, conservative treatments are always the first choice in treating STS.

X-ray Vision: Diagnosing Your Ankle Pain

An ankle injury can result in several conditions, so a proper diagnosis is essential. Imaging tools such as X-rays, an MRI, a bone scan, and a CT scan may be used in some combination to create a complete picture of the damage that has occurred.

Ruling out other ankle concerns will help to determine the best course of treatment. MRI technology shows any previous or current damage to the soft tissue of the sinus tarsi. This technology does not use radiation, which makes it a great choice in the diagnosis of this condition. In some cases, an injection of local anesthesia or ankle arthroscopy will help to focus in on whether or not the sinus tarsi is the source of pain.

How is STS Treated?

The good news is that conservative treatments are effective in most cases, and Dr. Craig H. Thomajan DPM, FACFAS and Dr. Shine John, DPM, FACFAS will determine the treatment plan for your individual case. It’s critical to note that there are serious consequences if you choose to ignore foot and ankle pain. Cases that are addressed early on will likely be resolved through orthotics, immobilization, specialized footwear, or an ankle sleeve. Depending on your health, anti-inflammatories may be prescribed to reduce irritation and discomfort.

If you ignore a painful and unstable ankle, chronic pain, reduced mobility, and instability can develop. At the very least, you will be faced with more extensive treatment that may include cortisone injections and physical therapy to regain ankle strength and a stable foundation. Though rare, surgery is indicated in some cases.

Put Your Pain in Focus

Visit our office at the first sign of pain, and enjoy the advantages of early intervention. At Austin Foot and Ankle Specialists, you’ll benefit from the Austin experts in sports injury. If ankle pain has sidelined you from your favorite sport and daily routine, you can find help and relief today. Call (512) 328-8900, or schedule an appointment online.

Dr. Shine John, DPM, FACFAS
Podiatric Physician, Surgeon, Specialist at Austin Foot and Ankle Specialists