Subtalar Arthritis/Subtalar Fusion

What is it: The subtalar joint is located between the heel bone (calcaneus) and the bone of the under surface of the ankle (talus). It is responsibility for approximately 80% of the side to side movement of the hindfoot. At times it becomes arthritic resulting in pain, swelling and loss of function. Fusing the subtalar joint is an effective way of decreasing pain and improving the function of the foot. Fusion of a joint means connecting the two bones on either side of the joint together. After a subtalar fusion most patients are able to walk comfortably, without a limp, and have considerably less pain.

Management: Ankle arthritis can be treated nonoperatively or operatively. Dr Unsworth-Smith will assess and diagnose your arthritis and decide whether surgery is an option for you. Nonoperative management includes pan relieving medication, alterations in foot wear and ankle braces.

Surgery involves making an incision on the outside of the foot. The subtalar joint is prepared by removing the cartilage on each side of the joint. The joint is then secured with 3 screws.

Postoperatively: Patients often require 1 night in hospital. You will have a nerve block (local anaesthetic to numb the ankle) which will help control pain after the surgery. You will be placed in a plaster for 2 weeks initially. At this stage the wound will be reviewed. You will then be placed into a boot for another 4 weeks. At the end of your first 6 weeks you will be placed in a walking boot with progressive weight bearing

Return to most activities will be between 4-6 months with full recovery by 12 months.