Joint Pain Messing With Your Stride?

To walk or run, different bones, ligaments, nerves, and muscles must all work together. This is what keeps anyone moving and grooving. However, with constant movement comes the potential for joint pain. And one of the most common types of foot pain happens at the subtalar joint. Subtalar joint hinges the talus, or ankle bone, and calcaneus, or heel bone. Joint damage can be severe to the point where surgery is necessary.

Minnesota Valley Surgery Center Subtalar Joint Pain: When To Consider Foot & Ankle Surgery

What’s causing your joint pain?

Subtalar joints are critical parts of the foot. When people walk on some rocky terrain or uneven surfaces, the subtalar joint is at work. The joint helps with stability on uneven surfaces and acts as a shock absorber, reducing forces on the lower back and spine. Some joint pain happens as the result of injury or intense physical activity. A fall, twist, or collision can cause severe pain and discomfort. But most occurs as a result of arthritis. With age, the bone and cartilage begin to erode. This can cause pain and discomfort since there is insufficient cushion between the bones.

Look for these glaring signs

Foot pain is quite common. But some signs point specifically to the subtalar joint. The joint allows the foot to move side to side, especially on uneven floors. Persons with subtalar joint pain find walking on these surfaces feels difficult or unstable. There can also be pain and swelling at the back of the foot or outside the foot. Generally, if any foot movement from side to side causes discomfort, it’s best to see a doctor immediately.

Treating your subtalar joint pain

A doctor will do a complete check that may include an x-ray and MRI to confirm any issues with the joint. With the right information, the doctor will provide a few treatment options. Physical therapy can help improve the range of motion and strengthen the surrounding muscles in the foot. Medication, including steroid injections, can reduce pain and inflammation. Along with these conservative measures, patients will be encouraged to rest the foot and use proper supportive footwear. These measures can help many with pain heal naturally and return to normal activities.

Do you need foot and ankle surgery?

There are some cases where non-surgical treatment will fail to reduce pain. In other cases, there is clear damage that these conservative means would not fix. Both circumstances can make even walking difficult. At this point, the patient and doctor should consider surgery. Surgery aims to remove damaged tissue, cartilage, and strengthen the affected bones.

Small incisions, big results

An orthopedic surgeon will access the joint using minimally invasive techniques. A small scope and camera through the side of the foot help the doctor assess the damage. From there, the doctor uses small tools to remove any damaged tissue and bone. For arthritic damage, the doctor may opt to fuse the joint, which will stabilize the foot. Surgery has proven to be an excellent option with a high success rate. However, persons with fusions may observe a reduction in the range of motion.

A renewed pep in your step

The subtalar joint has a significant impact on movement. If walking suddenly becomes painful, look for signs of discomfort at the back of the foot. This is especially the case on uneven surfaces. From there, practice simple pain management and seek medical advice. A medical professional will confirm subtalar joint pain and start with treatment. If surgery is recommended, don’t worry. Minimally invasive treatment will reduce pain and make walking a breeze again. For more information about subtalar joint pain, speak with a healthcare provider.

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