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Tarsal Coalition


A tarsal coalition is an abnormal connection that develops between two bones in the back of the foot (the tarsal bones). This abnormal connection, which can be composed of bone, cartilage, or fibrous tissue, may lead to limited motion and pain in one or both feet. While many people who have a tarsal coalition are born with this condition, the symptoms generally do not appear until the bones begin to mature, usually around ages 9 to 16. Sometimes there are no symptoms during childhood. However, pain and symptoms may develop later in life. Symptoms include Pain (mild to severe) when walking or standing, tired or fatigued legs, muscle spasms in the leg causing the foot to turn outward when walking, flatfoot (in one or both feet), walking with a limp, and stiffness of the foot and ankle.

How did I get this?

Most often, tarsal coalition occurs during foetal development, resulting in the individual bones not forming properly. Less common causes of tarsal coalition include infection, arthritis, or a previous injury to the area.

What can I do about it?

  • Rest from activities that cause the pain.
  • Short term nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) such as ibuprofen may be helpful in reducing the pain and inflammation.
  • Seek podiatry consultation.

What help can I get for this?

  • Podiatrist may prescribe orthotic devices for distributing weight away from the joint, limiting motion at the joint and relieving pain. Footwear modification such as a stiff rocker sole may be effective.
  • Podiatrist may consider immobilization to give the affected area a rest. The foot is placed in a cam walker, and crutches may be used to avoid placing weight on the foot.
  • Your doctor may give steroid injections to reduce the inflammation and pain.
  • Foot and ankle surgeon for surgical management if symptoms are not adequately relieved with nonsurgical treatment.

When will it get better?

  • Treatment by a podiatrist may result in symptom relief within 6-8 weeks.
  • Depending upon the type and location of your surgery, a cast will be required for a period of time to protect the surgical site and prevent you from putting weight on the foot. Although it may take several months to fully recover, most patients have pain relief and improved motion after surgery.