Common Diagnoses:
Subtalar Arthritis

Subtalar Arthritis Overview

Subtalar arthritis is a type of arthritis which affects the subtalar joint, that is, the joint found below the ankle joint in the hindfoot. The condition is characterised by pain in the hindfoot area, which can be aggravated by walking, especially on an uneven surface, and standing. The specific location of the pain is the level of the hindfoot which is just below the outside of the ankle.

Subtalar Arthritis Symptoms

When you have subtalar arthritis, you may experience pain on both sides of the foot, or just the outer side, from just below the ankle. Pain can also be felt from the dip which is found in front of the outer ankle bone. Because the subtalar joint – which is made up of the talus and calcaneus, and the space known as the sinus tarsi – plays an important role in allowing us to walk along uneven surfaces, subtalar arthritis may make it extremely difficult to walk on this type of ground, due to the stress which is placed on the joint.

You might find that subtalar arthritis symptoms get worse in cold weather, and that stiffness is especially bad in the mornings. Other common symptoms of subtalar arthritis include inhibited movement of the joint, swelling and a joint deformity, caused by a change in foot shape

Subtalar Arthritis Diagnosis

Your doctor physically examines your foot and ankle for pain and inflammation. The exact location and severity of the pain are essential to identify the type and the extent of the damage. Your doctor will also take your medical history and may order an X-ray or CT-scan or MRI to confirm the diagnosis.

Subtalar Arthritis Treatment

Among the non-surgical treatment options for subtalar arthritis are weight loss programs, which help to reduce the amount of weight which is placed on the hindfoot, decreasing the forces which go through it; modifying activities to reduce the amount of walking and standing which is done, especially on uneven surfaces; ankle bracing, often using an ankle brace, which can limit the forces going through the joint; more comfortable shoes, which can offer more shock absorption in the heel area; and the ice and elevation routine, which ices the ankle and hindfoot region, and elevates the leg in order to reduce both swelling and pain.

Medications which can be prescribed for the condition include nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAID) such as Ibuprofen, and paracetamol.

Subtalar fusion is the most common surgical treatment of subtalar arthritis. The procedure, also known as subtalar arthrodesis, involves the clearing of cartilage remnants from the joint, before the placing of bone grafts and screws across the joint.