How Do Tarsal Coalitions Cause Foot And Ankle Pain?

Tarsal coalitions are a foot condition where 2 separate bones of the foot are abnormally attached together. The 2 most common places that these occur are between the talus and calcaneus and between the navicular and the calcaneus.

Tarsal coalitions occur developmentally and cause an abnormal fibrous or bone form bridge to hold the 2 separate bones together. If this happens, the foot typically ends up much more stiff than it should be.  Tarsal coalitions seem to happen more commonly in people with flat feet, but they can occur in all foot types.  

Tarsal coalitions generally cause foot pain because the foot is too rigid so it cannot absorb shock well.  The 2 bones that should move independently stress against each other and cause pain.

There are several signs on x-ray that tarsal coalitions are present and sometimes an MRI or CT scan can be helpful to make the official diagnosis. Some patients present with a rigid flat foot and peroneal tendinitis when they have a tarsal coalition. The peroneal tendinitis occurs, because the peroneal tendons will spasm if the foot is fixed in this position.

Treatment for tarsal coalitions typically starts conservatively with supportive shoes and custom orthotics. If this fails to relieve pain, surgical removal of the abnormal connection between the 2 bones is typically the best procedure. Sometimes if the joint is too arthritic from the tarsal coalition, we end up fusing the joint with an arthrodesis type procedure to try to get rid of the pain for the patient.

If you are suffering from any foot and ankle pain, call your expert Colorado Springs foot and ankle surgeons today at 719-488-4664 so we can help you!

Author
Dr. Matthew Hinderland Board Certified Podiatrist and Foot and Ankle Surgeon

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