Understanding Tarsal Coalition: A Bone Condition
When it comes to walking, most of us take for granted the role that our feet play in keeping us mobile. However, there are times when our feet may face challenges, such as tarsal coalition. This bone condition affects the feet and can cause decreased motion or the absence of motion in one or more of the joints in the foot. In this article, we will explore tarsal coalition in more detail, including its causes, symptoms, and treatment options.
What is Tarsal Coalition?
Tarsal coalition is a condition that affects the tarsal bones in the foot. These bones are located at the top of the arch, the heel, and the ankle. Tarsal coalition occurs when two of these tarsal bones form an abnormal connection in the back of the foot or the arch. This abnormal connection most commonly occurs due to an inherited trait. The condition is often present at birth but may not become symptomatic until later in life.
What Causes Tarsal Coalition?
The lack of motion or absence of motion experienced in a tarsal coalition is caused by abnormal bone, cartilage, or fibrous tissue growth across a joint. When excess bone has grown across a joint, it may result in restricted or a complete lack of motion in that joint. Cartilage or fibrous tissue growth can restrict motion to varying degrees, causing pain in the affected joint and/or in surrounding joints.
Symptoms of Tarsal Coalition
The symptoms of tarsal coalition vary depending on the severity of the condition. Common symptoms include an aching sensation deep in the foot near the ankle or arch, accompanied by muscle spasms on the outside of the affected leg. The pain often worsens with activity or standing for long periods. The foot may also feel stiff, and range of motion may be limited. It is important to note that some people with tarsal coalition may not experience any symptoms, while others may experience severe pain.
Treatment for Tarsal Coalition
Nonsurgical treatments, such as corrective shoes or custom orthotics, physical therapy, and anti-inflammatory medication, are the first courses of action for most cases of tarsal coalition. Custom-made orthotics help to distribute pressure evenly across the foot and reduce pain. Physical therapy helps to stretch and strengthen the muscles in the foot and leg. Anti-inflammatory medication can relieve pain and reduce inflammation around the joint.
In severe cases, where nonsurgical treatment does not improve the condition, surgery may be necessary. Surgery aims to allow for more normal motion between the bones or to fuse the affected joint or surrounding joints. This helps to reduce pain and improve function.
Tarsal coalition may affect the foot’s ability to move and be painful. Symptoms can vary depending on the severity of the condition. Nonsurgical treatments, such as corrective shoes or custom orthotics, physical therapy, and anti-inflammatory medication, are often the first courses of action. However, seeing a foot and ankle specialist like Dr. Gilbert Huang DPM can help in developing an appropriate and effective treatment plan that is specific to your individual needs. So, if you feel that you may have tarsal coalition, do not hesitate to visit a specialist to get a proper diagnosis and treatment plan.