Sinus tarsi syndrome (STS) is a clinical finding that mainly consists of pain and tenderness of the lateral side of the hindfoot, between the ankle and the heel.
STS has been described in dancers, volleyball and basketball players, overweight individuals, and patients with flatfoot and hyperpronation deformities. The incidence of STS is unknown, but it has been associated with ankle sprains that may also result in talocrural joint instability. Most patients present in the 3rd to 4th decades of life.
- localised pain in the sinus tarsi region: worsens when firm pressure is placed over the lateral opening of the tarsal sinus, and is most severe during walking or supination and adduction of the foot
- feeling of instability aggravated by weight bearing, especially on uneven surfaces
- pain on palpation of the sinus tarsi with aggravation on foot inversion and eversion
- cessation of pain on injection of a local anaesthetic into the sinus tarsi is diagnostic for STS
STS probably occurs following one single or a series of ankle sprains that also result in significant injuries to the talocrural interosseous and cervical ligaments. This causes instability of the subtalar joint in supination and pronation movements. In summary, STS can be primarily described as an instability of the subtalar joint due to ligamentous injuries that result in synovitis and scar tissue formation in the sinus tarsi. Haemorrhage or inflammation of the synovial recesses of the sinus tarsi can also cause scarring without tears of the associated ligaments.
- gout 6
Osteoarthritis of the subtalar joint and intraosseous cysts may be present in advanced cases.
Shows secondary bony changes earlier than plain films.
Inflammatory changes may be attributed to the sinus tarsi/subtalar region.
Probably the best test to show changes in the tissues of the sinus tarsi including inflammation, scar tissue formation or ligamentous injuries. The T1-hyperintense fat in the sinus tarsi space is replaced by either fluid or scar tissue, and the ligaments may be disrupted. Ganglion cysts in the region of the sinus tarsi may compress the posterior tibial nerve.
Treatment and prognosis
Conservative treatment is usually effective. It may include anti-inflammatory drugs, stable shoes, a period of immobilisation, cryotherapy, ankle sleeve and orthoses. Treatment of ganglion cyts in the sinus tarsi typically consists of surgical excision. Recommendations for rehabilitation include balance and proprioceptive training, and muscle strengthening exercises.
History and etymology
It was first described by Denis O'Connor in 1958.
For the clinical presentation of sinus tarsi syndrome, consider:
- 1. Helgeson K. Examination and intervention for sinus tarsi syndrome. N Am J Sports Phys Ther. 2009;4 (1): 29-37. - Free text at pubmed - Pubmed citation
- 2. Lee KB, Bai LB, Park JG et-al. Efficacy of MRI versus arthroscopy for evaluation of sinus tarsi syndrome. Foot Ankle Int. 2008;29 (11): 1111-6. doi:10.3113/FAI.2008.1111 - Pubmed citation
- 3. Klein MA, Spreitzer AM. MR imaging of the tarsal sinus and canal: normal anatomy, pathologic findings, and features of the sinus tarsi syndrome. Radiology. 1993;186 (1): 233-40. Radiology (abstract) - Pubmed citation
- 4. Herrmann M, Pieper KS. [Sinus tarsi syndrome: what hurts?]. Unfallchirurg. 2008;111 (2): 132-6. doi:10.1007/s00113-007-1387-3 - Pubmed citation
- 5. Rosenberg ZS, Beltran J, Bencardino JT. From the RSNA Refresher Courses. Radiological Society of North America. MR imaging of the ankle and foot. Radiographics. 2000;20 Spec No : S153-79. Radiographics (full text) - Pubmed citation
- 6. Lektrakul N, Chung CB, Lai Ym et-al. Tarsal sinus: arthrographic, MR imaging, MR arthrographic, and pathologic findings in cadavers and retrospective study data in patients with sinus tarsi syndrome. Radiology. 2001;219 (3): 802-10. doi:10.1148/radiology.219.3.r01jn31802 - Pubmed citation