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Understanding Tarsal Coalition

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Foot examIt is common to think of a coalition as being a group of people assembled to tackle a particular task or objective. The term is often framed in the context of military or political fields. In the medical field, coalition has a different meaning. A prime example of this which the staff at McDowell Podiatry Group sees fairly often is tarsal coalition.

This issue is not as commonly-known as other medical conditions we treat at our Sacramento area office, but it can lead to pain in the back of the foot for those who experience it.

The problem occurs when any of the bones found in the back part of the foot—including the heel bone, talus (ankle bone), navicular, cuboid, and cuneiform bones—is connected to another in an abnormal manner. This connection can be composed of fibrous tissue, cartilage, or even bone tissue, and it starts to develop in the womb.

Give the malleable nature of young bones, issues do not begin until around ages 9 to 16. Prior to this time, the bones are soft enough that the problem remains hidden. As the bones begin to harden, though, it can lead to difficulty and limited motion in either one or both feet.

Symptoms that can be present include:

  • Pain while standing or walking
  • Fatigued or tired legs
  • Muscles spasms, which can cause the foot to turn outwards while walking
  • Flatfoot
  • Limping

As always, our hope here at McDowell Podiatry Group is to use nonsurgical treatment options to resolve the issue for our patients. This can be achieved with the use of medication, physical therapy, cortisone injections, custom orthotic devices, and/or immobilization. In all likelihood, our treatment plan will consist of a combination of some of those options, depending on the specific case we are addressing.

You might not know that you have tarsal coalition—only that you are experiencing pain in the back of the foot—so come see us for an accurate diagnosis. Once we have established the root cause, we will provide the appropriate treatment to relieve your painful symptoms. Call our Carmichael, CA office at (916) 961-3434 for more information. We can help you schedule an appointment by phone or you can request one by using our online form today.

Dr. Brian McDowell
Dr. Brian McDowell, board-certified podiatrist, provides cutting-edge foot and ankle care in Carmichael, CA.
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