Teenagers are dealing with many social and physical changes as they grow into young adults.  Unfortunately, there are several conditions of the foot and ankle that peek their ugly head around this time.  Our blogs have discussed some of these issues, specifically pes planus and Sever’s disease. While Sever’s disease is an acquired problem, pes planus and tarsal coalitions are often congenital, or part of development. You can always read up on these issues and others at our Children’s Feet link on our website.

Back to tarsal coaltions…..Your foot is divided into 3 sections: 
  1. Phalanges (your toes)
  2. Metatarsus (long bones behind your toes)
  3. Tarsus (calcaneus, talus, navicular, cuboid, and cuneiforms). 
The tarsal bones make up the ‘back’ portion of your foot, some of which connects to your leg at the ankle. Similar to other bones of your body, these bones are held together by ligaments and have joints where they meet.  The joints are lined with smooth cartilage that allows these bones to move and slide against each other as you walk or run allowing your foot to function properly. When cartilage, bone, or other tissues occur in the joint, they coalesce, or fuse together.  This may not become problematic until early or late teenage years depending on your child’s rate of bone development and activity level.  Symptoms to watch for include pain with activities, tired legs, limping, stiffness in the foot and ankle, flattening of the arch, or muscle spasms in the leg.

With an initial visit to your Austin Foot and Ankle Specialists, we can offer several options, including but not limited to medication, injection, inserts to provide symptom relief. A diagnosis of tarsal coalition can be made through physical exam and your history.  X-rays and CT imaging are typically used as well to confirm the type and severity of coalition that is being treated.  Some individuals will respond well to physical therapy and the modalities already mentioned.  In more severe or debilitating cases, surgical options may become necessary. Your podiatrist will discuss the best options to keep your teen pain free and back to the activities they love.

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