Tarsal Coalition: Don't Ignore the Pain
We all want what’s best for our children, and that includes their health. Unfortunately, we may not always recognize when there is a problem. Maybe you’ve noticed that your child’s foot looks flat, or that they don’t care to walk long distances or run around much, but didn’t really think much of it. If he or she also complains of soreness on the side of the foot, don’t take it lightly: contact The Plateau Foot & Ankle Clinic in Sammamish WA for an evaluation. Your child could have a condition called tarsal coalition.
When Bones Stay Together
During development in the womb, a baby’s bone mass gradually separates and differentiates into all the distinct bones that make up the body’s structure. Sometimes there is an inherited condition in which the bones don’t grow apart but stay fused together. Tarsal coalition occurs when two of the tarsal bones in your feet are conjoined in this way. Seattle Children’s Hospital research estimates that about 1-2% of the population is affected, and chances are good that a child will develop this condition if one parent has it. Most commonly, the heel bone is joined to either the navicular or the talus—bones on the top and side of the midfoot. The joint can be connected by fibrous tissue, cartilage, or bone, with bone forming the most rigid connection.
Fused Bones Cause Flat Feet and Pain
The fusion of the tarsal bones usually results in your child having flat feet. This may show up between ages 8 and 16, and resembles flat foot from other causes. The sole is flat along the floor, the toes may point outward a bit, and the ankle may tilt to the inside. With other types of flatfoot, if the child stands on tiptoe or dangles their feet, an arch may show, but with this type it remains flat even then. The rigid bones mean that the foot doesn’t flex normally, which can make it difficult to walk. Often these symptoms don’t cause major problems, but in many cases the child feels pain under the outside ankle bone that eventually radiates toward the top of the foot as well.
Conservative Treatment Is Preferable
We want to provide children with relief from pain, but with as little upset to their system as possible. We begin by limiting the activity that causes their discomfort, and may recommend an anti-inflammatory medicine. Sometimes wearing a rigid boot or cast for a few weeks allows the inflammation to subside and the pain to go away. We often follow this with a custom orthotic designed to improve the mechanics of the foot, and often no more treatment is needed. If the pain doesn’t go away or recurs after resuming activity, surgical methods can be used to correct the situation.
The expert care you will receive at The Plateau Foot & Ankle Clinic can soon have your child up and running around as usual, as long as you catch the tarsal coalition problem early before more permanent damage occurs. Don’t delay. If your child complains of foot pain, give Dr. Howard Schaengold a call at (425) 868-3338. Our office in Sammamish also serves the Bellevue, Issaquah, Redmond, and Fall City areas.