| Options for Persons with Tarsal Coalitions
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Options for Persons with Tarsal Coalitions

Options for Persons with Tarsal Coalitions

The condition called tarsal coalition is an improper connection of tarsal bones near the back of the foot. There are five tarsal bones in the complex skeletal structure of the foot. These are the calcaneus (heel bone), talus, navicular, cuboid, and cuneiform bones.


A tarsal coalition is most often formed in the fetal stage of development, although it can be undetected until the patient is nine and up to 16 years old. Besides fetal development, a tarsal coalition can also be caused by an infection or an injury to the foot.




Symptoms of a tarsal coalition include mild to debilitating pain when pressure is applied to the foot (by walking or standing). Other symptoms include:


  • A feeling of tired legs or feet
  • Cramping muscles in the calf that cause the foot to point outward in a splayed manner
  • Flatfoot or fallen arches may occur
  • Uneven gait (walking with a limp
  • Stiffness in the foot and ankle


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The diagnosis for a tarsal coalition is generally done when the patient is nine to 14 years of age. (In some cases, it is not detected until later than 14.) The first part of a diagnosis is an interview with the patient-focused on the history of the painful condition. When this is done, the doctor will want X-ray images of the foot to confirm the diagnosis.




Surgery is an option for some cases of tarsal coalition. The options for surgery should be discussed thoroughly with your physician. At Oasis Foot and Ankle Center, the staff is there to help you through a diagnosis and treatment of medical and routine foot care.


Non-surgical treatment for a tarsal coalition is also available and is commonly recommended before choosing surgery. The non-surgical treatment approaches include:


  • Oral medications including non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs). This category of drugs includes over-the-counter options. They are used to reduce swelling and control pain.
  • Physical therapy involves treatment such as ultrasound therapy and various exercises to improve coordination and range of motion. Massage is also recommended to improve blood circulation in the foot.
  • Immobilization involves restricting the movement of the foot with a walking cast or brace that takes some of the pressure off of your foot. This gives the foot time to heal.
  • Orthopedic braces are prescribed to correct your gait to reduce pain and regain motion in your foot
  • Pain relief through injection is also recommended for some cases. This is done as a temporary relief that reduces spasms. This is often done as a first step proceeding next to the use of an immobilizing cast or brace.


Choosing Surgery


Surgery is always considered a last-resort measure. However, discussions about the benefits – the pros and cons – of surgery should be discussed at length with your physician. Various elements affect the decision to use surgery. These include considerations for the patient’s age, medical history, and lifestyle. The severity of the presenting condition is also a factor to consider.


Contact a Foot doctor Phoenix and Scottsdale, for the best podiatrist treatment center in the area, dial 602-993-2700.

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