Sinus Tarsi Syndrome

Sinus Tarsi Syndrome (STS) is a foot condition that affects many people worldwide. The condition involves pain along the space between the heel and ankle on the outer side.  In this article, we will discuss the symptoms, causes, diagnosis, and treatment options for Sinus Tarsi Syndrome.

What is Sinus Tarsi Syndrome?

Sinus Tarsi Syndrome is a condition characterized by pain and tenderness in the sinus tarsi, a small, bony canal located on the outside of the foot between the ankle and heel bones. This area contains several important structures, including ligaments, blood vessels, and nerves, which can become irritated or inflamed.

Symptoms of Sinus Tarsi Syndrome

The symptoms of Sinus Tarsi Syndrome can vary but typically include:

1. **Pain and Tenderness**: Persistent pain on the outer side of the foot, particularly when standing or walking.
2. **Swelling**: Visible swelling around the sinus tarsi area.
3. **Instability**: A feeling of instability or weakness in the ankle.
4. **Limited Range of Motion**: Difficulty moving the foot or ankle without pain.
5. **Clicking or Popping Sensation**: Some individuals may experience a clicking or popping sound when moving the foot.

Causes of Sinus Tarsi Syndrome

Several factors can contribute to the development of Sinus Tarsi Syndrome, including:

1. **Ankle Sprains**: Repeated ankle sprains or injuries can damage the ligaments and other structures within the sinus tarsi.
2. **Overuse**: Activities that place excessive stress on the foot, such as running or jumping, can lead to overuse injuries.
3. **Flat Feet**: People with flat feet are more prone to developing Sinus Tarsi Syndrome due to the altered mechanics of the foot.
4. **Arthritis**: Inflammatory conditions like arthritis can cause inflammation and pain in the sinus tarsi.
5. **Obesity**: Excess weight can increase the strain on the feet, contributing to the development of this condition.

Diagnosing Sinus Tarsi Syndrome

Diagnosing Sinus Tarsi Syndrome involves a thorough examination by a healthcare professional. The process may include:

1. **Medical History**: Discussing your symptoms, medical history, and any previous foot injuries.
2. **Physical Examination**: Assessing the foot for tenderness, swelling, and range of motion.
3. **Imaging and Diagnosis of Sinus Tarsi Syndrome**

Accurate diagnosis of Sinus Tarsi Syndrome is important for effective treatment. Imaging plays an important role in confirming the diagnosis and ruling out other potential foot conditions. Let’s discuss the various imaging techniques used to diagnose Sinus Tarsi Syndrome.


X-rays are often the first imaging technique employed to assess foot pain. They provide detailed images of the bones in the foot and ankle, helping to identify any fractures, bone spurs, or joint abnormalities. While X-rays are useful for detecting bony changes, they may not reveal soft tissue injuries associated with Sinus Tarsi Syndrome.

MRI (Magnetic Resonance Imaging)

MRI is one of the most effective imaging techniques for diagnosing Sinus Tarsi Syndrome. It provides high-resolution images of both bone and soft tissue structures, including ligaments, tendons, and the synovial lining within the sinus tarsi. MRI can reveal:

1. **Ligament Damage**: Identifying tears or sprains in the ligaments within the sinus tarsi.
2. **Inflammation**: Detecting inflammation of the synovial lining or surrounding soft tissues.
3. **Fluid Accumulation**: Visualizing any fluid buildup within the sinus tarsi, indicative of inflammation or injury.
4. **Soft Tissue Lesions**: Identifying any abnormal growths or lesions in the soft tissues.

MRI is particularly beneficial because it does not involve radiation, making it a safe option for repeated imaging if necessary.

CT (Computed Tomography) Scan

CT scans provide detailed cross-sectional images of the foot and ankle. They are particularly useful for evaluating complex bone structures and detecting subtle fractures or bone abnormalities that might not be visible on X-rays. CT scans can also help assess the alignment of the bones and the extent of any structural damage within the sinus tarsi.


Ultrasound imaging is a non-invasive and dynamic method for assessing soft tissue structures. It is often used to evaluate tendon injuries, ligament tears, and inflammation. Ultrasound can also guide the injection of corticosteroids or other treatments directly into the sinus tarsi area, enhancing the precision and effectiveness of the procedure.

Treatment Options for Sinus Tarsi Syndrome

Treatment for Sinus Tarsi Syndrome aims to alleviate pain, reduce inflammation, and improve foot function. Common treatment options include:

1. **Rest and Ice**: Resting the foot and applying ice can help reduce pain and swelling.
2. **Anti-Inflammatory Medications**: Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) can help manage pain and inflammation.
3. **Physical Therapy**: Specific exercises and stretches can strengthen the foot and ankle muscles, improving stability and function.
4. **Orthotic Devices**: Custom orthotics or shoe inserts can provide support and alleviate stress on the sinus tarsi.
5. **Corticosteroid Injections**: In some cases, corticosteroid injections may be recommended to reduce inflammation.
6. **Surgery**: If conservative treatments fail, surgical intervention may be necessary to repair or remove damaged tissues.

Preventing Sinus Tarsi Syndrome

Preventing Sinus Tarsi Syndrome involves adopting healthy habits and taking care of your feet. Consider the following tips:

1. **Wear Proper Footwear**: Choose shoes that provide adequate support and cushioning for your feet.
2. **Warm Up and Stretch**: Before engaging in physical activities, make sure to warm up and stretch your muscles.
3. **Maintain a Healthy Weight**: Keeping a healthy weight reduces the strain on your feet and lowers the risk of developing foot conditions.
4. **Strengthen Your Ankles**: Perform exercises that target ankle strength and stability to prevent injuries.
5. **Avoid Overuse**: Gradually increase the intensity of physical activities to avoid overuse injuries.

When to See a Doctor

If you experience persistent foot pain, swelling, or instability, it is essential to seek medical attention. Early diagnosis and treatment can prevent the condition from worsening and improve your quality of life. Your doctor will provide a tailored treatment plan based on the severity of your symptoms and underlying causes.


Sinus Tarsi Syndrome is a painful condition that affects the foot’s stability and function. Understanding the symptoms, causes, and treatment options is important for managing this condition effectively. If you suspect you have Sinus Tarsi Syndrome, seek medical advice to prevent further complications and ensure a recovery.

Disclaimer: The content of this website is provided for general informational purposes only and is not intended as, nor should it be considered a substitute for, professional medical advice. Do not use the information on this website for diagnosing or treating any medical or health condition. If you have or suspect you have a medical problem, promptly contact your professional healthcare provider.

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