Subtalar Joint Arthritis

The subtalar joint is between the talus and the calcaneus bones in the hind foot, underneath the ankle joint. It helps with side to side motion of the hind foot especially when walking on uneven ground, such as sand and particularly when walking bare footed. It also helps to dissipate forces associated when the heel strikes the ground.

Symptoms of subtalar joint arthritis

  • Pain especially with activity
  • Pain first thing in the morning
  • Progressive stiffness
  • Difficulty walking on uneven ground
  • Swelling, clicking and catching
Causes of subtalar joint arthritis

  • Primary osteoarthritis with articular cartilage damage
  • Secondary osteoarthritis:
    • related to trauma or previous fracture
    • increased joint stress from adjacent joint disease
  • Inflammatory arthropathy
    • most commonly rheumatoid arthritis
Imaging for subtalar joint arthritis

  • Weight-bearing X-rays are required with additional views
  • Long leg X-rays, CT scans or MRI scans may be required
Non operative treatment for subtalar joint arthritis

  • Topical pain creams e.g. NSAIDS
  • Pain medications e.g. NSAIDS such as Mobic or Panadol Osteo
  • Lace up ankle brace, ankle foot orthosis aka AFO brace
  • University of California-Berkeley Lab orthosis aka UCBL orthosis
  • Shoe wear modification
    • lace up ankle boots
    • stiffer soled shoe with rocker bottom modification
  • Activity modification:
    • improve fitness and strength via non axial loading exercises e.g. cycling, swimming
    • avoid axial loading exercises e.g. running
  • Weight loss management
  • Joint injections
Surgery for subtalar joint arthritis

  • Arthroscopic procedures

  • Arthroscopic fusion

  • Open fusion

Risks of subtalar joint arthritis surgery

All surgery has risks involved, however every effort is made to reduce these risks. Risks include but are not limited to:

  • Infection: superficial wounds or deep infections
  • Clots: DVT (deep venous thrombosis) or PE (pulmonary embolus)
  • Nerve damage: tingling, numbness or burning
  • Ongoing pain
  • Stiffness of the ankle joint
  • General or anaesthetic risks including to the heart and lung
  • Drug reactions/allergy
  • Scarring or tethering of the skin
  • Rupture
  • Calf weakness
  • Revision surgery

There are increased risks of surgery in diabetics, smokers, significant peripheral vascular disease, severe neuropathy, previous or current infection which may preclude a patient from surgery.

View FootForward for Diabetes (run by Diabetes Australia) for more information on foot care.  

For all appointments and enquiries, please phone 07 5645 6913 or email

9 Kinloch Avenue
Benowa QLD 4217


© 2019-2024 Dr Danielle Wadley | Privacy Policy | Disclaimer | Website design: WebInjection