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Tarsal Coalition

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Tarsal Coalition

What is Tarsal Coalition?

Tarsal Coalition refers to an abnormal connection between two bones in the middle or back of the foot that often results in pain and stiffness in the foot and ankle. Tarsal Coalition is usually congenital, and results from a failure of bones to separate during fetal development. Though Tarsal Coalition is usually the result of a birth defect, it can also be brought on by trauma, infection, or advanced arthritis.

FAQ: Tarsal Coalition

How is tarsal coalition diagnosed?

Though most people with Tarsal Coalition are born with the condition, it is difficult to identify until after the bones have begun to mature. If you or your child have begun to experience symptoms of Tarsal Coalition, your foot surgeon will most likely examine the foot, order an x-ray, and perhaps order a CT scan or MRI of the foot. These exams will easily reveal a connection between bones or fibrous tissue.

At what age to people begin to show signs of tarsal coalition?

Though the formation of Tarsal Coalition usually begins before birth, symptoms do not often appear until after the bone has solidified. This means that symptoms may seem to begin at random and often arise between the ages of 9 and 16. Some patients do not even experience symptoms untill adulthood.

I have tarsal coalition. Is it likely that my child will inherit the condition?

Because Tarsal Coalition is an autosomal dominant genetic disorder, children are very likely to inherit the condition if one of their parents also has it. About 1 in 100 people inherit tarsal coalition. If you suspect that your child has tarsal coalition, it is best to seek medical treatment right away. Surgical correction is usually much more effective in younger patients.

Can tarsal coalition be treated non-surgically?

Tarsal Coalition can be treated non-surgically, although surgical options are frequently used to treat more severe cases. Non-surgical treatments include the use of Ibuprofen or other non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) to reduce pain and inflammation, steroidal injections, stabilizing orthotics, massage, range-of-motion exercises, and other forms of physical therapy.

What do surgical treatments involve for Tarsal Coalition?

Surgical options are used when non-surgical treatments fail to keep feet and legs free from pain. Surgery will either be performed to remove the bar that connects the two bones and restore motion to the foot or to fuse together the affected joints. While both procedures can be effective, removal of bone is more effective in younger children who have had less wear on their joints. When joints have received excessive wear, a fusion (or arthrodesis) can strengthen the affected areas and stop motion between the two bones.

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