The tarsal bones include the calcaneus (heel bone), talus, navicular, cuboid, and cuneiform bones. These bones work together to provide the motion necessary for normal foot function.
Most often, tarsal coalition occurs during fetal 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.
The symptoms of tarsal coalition may include one or more of the following:
- Pain (mild to severe) when walking or standing.
- Tired or fatigued legs.
- Muscles spasms in the leg, causing the foot to turn outward when walking.
- Flatfoot (in one or both feet).
- Walking with a limp.
- Stiffness of the foot and ankle.
In addition to examining the foot, the surgeon will order x-rays. Advanced imaging studies may also be required to fully evaluate the condition.
The goal of non-surgical treatment of tarsal coalition is to relieve the symptoms and reduce the motion at the affected joint. One or more of the following options may be used, depending on the severity of the condition and the response to treatment:
- Oral medications. Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), such as ibuprofen, may be helpful in reducing the pain and inflammation.
- Physical therapy. Physical therapy may include massage, range-of-motion exercises, and ultrasound therapy.
- Steroid injections. An injection of cortisone into the affected joint reduces the inflammation and pain. Sometimes more than one injection is necessary.
- Orthotic devices. Custom orthotic devices can be beneficial in distributing weight away from the joint, limiting motion at the joint, and relieving pain.
- Immobilization. Sometimes the foot is immobilized to give the affected area a rest. The foot is placed in a cast or cast boot, and crutches are used to avoid placing weight on the foot.
- Injection of an anesthetics. Injection of an anesthetic into the leg may be used to relax spasms and is often performed prior to immobilization.
If you believe have a foot problem and do not currently see a podiatrist, call one of our six locations to make an appointment.
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