sinus tarsi syndromeAre you an athlete who has had frequent ankle sprains? Do you have pain and swelling on the outside of your foot between your ankle and heel? You may very likely have Sinus Tarsi Syndrome.  

What is this strange-sounding syndrome?

Let’s start with the sinus tarsi. Not a structure per se, but rather a tunnel containing ligaments that keep a joint, known as the subtalar joint, stable. When these ligaments are damaged, the joint becomes unstable.


In addition to the pain and swelling on the lateral side of the foot, patients report:

  • feeling unstable in the foot when standing (foot rolls in and out more easily)
  • pain worsens when standing or walking on uneven ground or when the foot rolls outward.
  • bruising and tenderness on the outside of the foot (where the sinus tarsi is located)
  • pain when the foot is turned in or out


To diagnose this condition your podiatrist will perform certain tests on the foot including turning it in or out. Your podiatrist may also order an MRI to confirm it.

Risk Factors

  • Athletes particularly dancers, volleyball players, and basketball players who have sustained multiple sprains or one major injury to this part of the foot.
  • Non-athletes with flat feet that show severe pronation. This can cause the two bones in the subtalar joint to pinch against each other.
  • Overweight
  • Arthritis or instability in the subtalar joint
  • Injury to that area of the foot particularly sprains

Treatment for Sinus Tarsi Syndrome in North Seattle

The following conservative treatments are offered for treatment of this syndrome.

  • Anti-inflammatory medication
  • Cortisone injections in the sinus tarsi
  • Stop athletic activity until condition is healed
  • Custom orthotics to prevent pronation and pinching of the subtalar joint
  • Stable shoes (to ensure you purchase supportive shoes, check out my video, How To Test Any Shoe for Stability). Shoes should also be checked for wear and replaced if necessary.
  • Bracing and taping to prevent movement of the foot and ankle
  • Physical therapy to help with stability, strength, balance, and increased joint movement
  • Surgery may be indicated if the more conservative treatments fail.


Dr. Rion Berg
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A podiatrist in North Seattle treating families for over 40 years.