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Life after a subtalar fusion

Posted by dave on 12/09/02 at 15:14 (102381)

I fractured my calaneous a couple years ago and still have quite a bit of pain. I get around OK but I think I'm getting arthritis in my subtalar joint. I've discussed this with an orthopedic surgeon and he has mentioned doing a subtalar fusion. Prior to the accident I was very active and am nervous about getting a fusion. I'd really like to hear from people who have had this done to see if its limited their activities and reduced any pain.

Thanks

Re: Life after a subtalar fusion

BGCPED on 12/12/02 at 11:20 (102819)

Footwear and orthotics can have an influence on you condition both before and after the surgery. You may want to make shure you get a firm shoe like a hiking type boot, running shoe or something with a shank in it to limit bending. If your foot is unstable or mal aligned an orthotic may help also. Not a Dr but once that procedure is done it cant be reversed. I would see what your pain level is a 1 to 2 months after getting proper shoes and inserts, if it is reduced to a point that you can 'live' with it meaning you dont become a couch potato due to pain then your Dr may tell you to keep going and do the fusion later.

If your Dr is talking fusion and never tried or suggested shoes and inserts I would look for a 2nd opinion. Sometimes spending a few hundred bucks up front is a good solution if it buys you some time

Re: Life after a subtalar fusion

Ed Davis, DPM on 12/17/02 at 19:26 (103432)

Dave:

A lot depends on the degree of arthritis in the subtalar joint. Fusion of the joint takes a long time to heal but can render the joint pain free. The ankle joint will take up the side to side motion lost in the subtalar joint and will cause problems in the long term. Make sure, as BG suggested, you have given conservative modalities a fair try before you proceed.
Ed

Re: Life after a subtalar fusion

BGCPED on 12/12/02 at 11:20 (102819)

Footwear and orthotics can have an influence on you condition both before and after the surgery. You may want to make shure you get a firm shoe like a hiking type boot, running shoe or something with a shank in it to limit bending. If your foot is unstable or mal aligned an orthotic may help also. Not a Dr but once that procedure is done it cant be reversed. I would see what your pain level is a 1 to 2 months after getting proper shoes and inserts, if it is reduced to a point that you can 'live' with it meaning you dont become a couch potato due to pain then your Dr may tell you to keep going and do the fusion later.

If your Dr is talking fusion and never tried or suggested shoes and inserts I would look for a 2nd opinion. Sometimes spending a few hundred bucks up front is a good solution if it buys you some time

Re: Life after a subtalar fusion

Ed Davis, DPM on 12/17/02 at 19:26 (103432)

Dave:

A lot depends on the degree of arthritis in the subtalar joint. Fusion of the joint takes a long time to heal but can render the joint pain free. The ankle joint will take up the side to side motion lost in the subtalar joint and will cause problems in the long term. Make sure, as BG suggested, you have given conservative modalities a fair try before you proceed.
Ed

Re: Life after a subtalar fusion

Tina E. on 11/03/06 at 21:58 (214908)

Hi, I fractured my Talus bone, 4 1/2 years ago in a head on collision, actually crushed it. The Doctor's wanted to fuse the sub-talar joint, right then, but I told them no. Not knowing about any other procedures, maybe a subtalar joint replacement, but as we all know there is none, so after 4 years, and 4 surgery's later my ankle, having 100% arthritis, like a 80 year old man i'm told, and starting to collapse, needing to take many pain pills every day just to live a normal life, I decided to do what I always swore I would never do. I fused my subtalar joint. Sept 18th, 06 was the surgery, so I am only 7 weeks out, and so far so good. My whole ankle area looks really weird, but as for the difference between the old arthritic pain, and the pain from just having surgery. The old pain is gone, I think?? So this would make surgery number 5 on the good ol ankle. And I'm hoping by everything I swore I would never do, It worked. If the pain that i'm feeling is really from the surgery, and not the old pain, then i'm already happy, because, living with horrible pain, limping, not being able to walk long distances, without taking drugs, this might be so worth it.
So as far as limiting my activites, I wont know for a couple of more months, from what the Doc told me I will walk as normal as possible, no limp anymore, the only thing that will be gone, will be the left to right motion, which is the motion for uneven surfaces, like sand and rocky areas. So maybe walking on the beach wont be as easy, but I will learn to compensate it, I think. As long as the PAIN is GONE. I dont care anymore. I think for all of us, just to get my life back that's all I care about...
I will try and respond again, in a couple of months, to let you know how it's going. But I honestly think, this is going to be better than before...
Good luck..Tina

Re: Life after a subtalar fusion

Brian N on 3/17/08 at 00:09 (244658)

How are you doing 16 months later with the fusion? I am a candidate for the fusion and have been holding out for many years. The honest surgeons tell me the pain relief will be good, but that new problems may develop as other foot joints try to provide the lost subtalar functions.

Re: Life after a subtalar fusion

Jerri on 4/02/08 at 20:01 (245434)

I had a s.fusion 4 yrs ago, and it was the best decision I ever made. My pain is gone for the most part, and I am back to normal activity. I can't run, but I never liked running anyway. Before the surgery I had a severe limp from the pain, and now I only have a minor limp when I am very tired.

Re: Life after a subtalar fusion

GregL on 4/07/08 at 18:39 (245570)

I had subtalor joint fusion Jan,16 2008 my joint was crack the Doctor put two screws thru the heel to the joint to make it fuse. also cleaned out the foot . the foot and ankle had snyovitis the Doctor cleaned that stuff up. I do have arthritis in the ankle and also in my knee. I was just wondering how long did it take you to recover or feel a little normal without to much pain walking around. I'm 53 and had the same problem as you before surgery meaning pain!! at this time the Doctor will have me start therapy I will start next week. also did your leg bother you when you were trying to walk again.

Re: Life after a subtalar fusion

Jerri on 4/07/08 at 19:37 (245573)

I was non weight bearing for 3 months. I had lots of swelling for the first 6-8 months, but could tell a huge difference in the pain as soon as the cast came off and I could use partial weight. I wore TED dtockings for months and this helped w/ the discomfort and swelling. The pain was minimal after 6 months, and about a year later I was only effected by weather mostly. Keep me updated on your progress. If I can help let me know. Hang in there. It will get better. iteach1stgraders at comcast.net

Re: Life after a subtalar fusion

Jerri on 4/07/08 at 19:40 (245574)

My upper leg did bother me only because I had a broken femur also. My knee did not hurt. iteach1stgraders at comcast.net

Re: Life after a subtalar fusion

karen z on 4/17/08 at 13:54 (245981)

My husband had subtalar joint fusion in Aug 06; by 01/07 it was verified it didnt fuse, he had to have the surgery again. In 9/07, he had the screws removed. The screws being removed was to try and reduce the swelling and pain he stil suffered. He was out of work for 20 months on w/c. He has gone back to work, but is in constant pain and his foot is still swollen. He wears the special socks every day. His dr has retired (Allentown PA) and we have been looking for a new foot M.D. in northeast PA closer to home. He visited a podiatrist 3x now, and she wants him to have ankel fusion. He refuses to have more surgery after these three. He does suffer from arthritis now, also. After the surgery, he was supposed to be able to walk normally and complete normal functions. He could not drive for almost 2 years and he limps and suffers from the daily pain. Can anyone recommend a decent foot specialist who is not surgery happy who can give him some relief in the pocono area of PA? After refusing more surgery from podiatrist, she did consent to a steroid injection (which on 1st visit she said wouldnt help). It's been three days, and he is feeling some relief.

Re: Life after a subtalar fusion

Janet Lea on 6/04/08 at 08:01 (247305)

I had a subtalar fusion three weeks ago. I know that it takes time but my question is;
When can I be up without my foot turning colors and throbbing?

Re: Life after a subtalar fusion

Gloria B. on 6/04/08 at 10:12 (247309)

Tina, just wondering how it worked with your sub talar fusion? I just had my surgery on 5/6 with 2 f/u drs visit so far with good reports. I'd like to know how it worked out for you? Thanks for any info.

Gloria B.

Re: Life after a subtalar fusion

Janet Lea on 6/12/08 at 17:20 (247597)

Hi My name is Janet and just had the fusion 4 1/2 weeks ago. I like you had an old injury that just got worse and worse. The pain was too much. I couldn't walk with shoes or without.
I spent a fortune on meds, supports for my shoes, not to mention acupuncture and massage.
In a cast until July 15 I hope.
The pain is mostly gone but still is hard to be upright for long.
Hope your is doing well. I am interested in hearing how it is going.
J

Re: Life after a subtalar fusion

Glo S on 9/20/08 at 04:16 (250349)

I'm facing subtalar fusion in November. I've been living with pain for 16 years but the last 1-1/2 have become increasingly unbearable. That's why I'm up at 2 am...couldn't sleep due to the nagging pain...Severe arthritis of the subtalar joint.

I am very interested in hearing how you are doing now, a year later. I am apprehensive about getting this surgery, but at times the pain is so bad I feel like I want my foot amputated (not that I would!).

Has your pain been aleiviated? Can you walk normally on firm ground, what about uneven surfaces or sand? Does your foot hurt when you are on it for long periods of time or stooping (like gardening). Any suggestions during recovery?

I would love to hear a positive report...for you and the rest of us facing the unknown.

Thanks!

Re: Life after a subtalar fusion

Bob on 9/23/08 at 08:25 (250423)

I have a subtalar fusion + strayer's procedure on Sept. 29 to correct extreme flatfoot deformity. I just turned 50. Not looking forward to the recovery.

Re: Life after a subtalar fusion

Chris V on 9/23/08 at 22:55 (250446)

I had subtaler fusion on my right foot 2 1/2 years after smashing both my heels in a head-on collision, and now a year later I am starting proceedures to have the left foot done. I am still in a great deal of pain in the right foot but have eliminated the stabbing pain that is now also happening in my left foot. I am hoping that with the subtaler fusion in the left foot that I will also eliminate the stabbing pain in that foot. No illisions here, the pain will still be there but it is what I refer to as a pad of pain that the stabbing kind. I think the amount of recovery from the pain depends on how much damage happened in the first place.I try to stay away from any pain pills , no matter how much pain I am in, as I want the pain pills to work as my joints deteriate further in the future. This is not easy but I am nervous about how much worse it will be down the line and hopefully I can stay out of a wheelchair for that much longer. I am now 50 years old.

Re: Life after a subtalar fusion

Kay on 10/01/08 at 20:03 (250683)

I just read your note regarding the sublateral fusion. I am scheduled to ahve this done in a couple of days and I really am feeling scared about this! It seems so drastic. Was it worth it? How much motion did you lose?

Re: Life after a subtalar fusion

kim on 10/06/08 at 04:23 (250855)

i had a fusion on my ankle back in nov. well im still limping in a lot of pain , still using a walker i suggest to you if you have another option go with it first, and by the way my doctor told me there was nothing else he could do for me and im only 34. so not only do i suffer but my family is also suffering being i can walk or run and oplay with my boys.... i wish u luck in whatever u decide

Re: Life after a subtalar fusion

Violet on 10/06/08 at 23:36 (250901)

I had the surgery during the last week of June, 2008. Before that, took months just to get the diagnosis of subtalar coalition. My former primary care physician didn't think anything was wrong. He said I must have tripped or something and sprained my ankle; he offhandedly said I might go to a podiatrist. I did. He ordered MRIs, yet couldn't figure out what my horrible pain was about. Lots of pain pills and two unsuccessful cortisone shots later, he said 'Well, I can operate on you, but I don't quite know what I'll find.' That was it. I went to a joint specialist who made the diagnosis and did the surgery. You know the joke: 'The operation was a success, but the patient died.' I didn't die, but I ended up with nerve damage that has been excruitating, the worst pain I have ever, ever had. It was like my foot was constantly on fire, 24/7. I am currently going to a neurologist. I am now doing pain patches and large doses of gabapentin. I can almost make it through the day without pain pills, almost. According to my joint doctor, my bones are healing well. My screw will be removed soon, as I don't have enough of my own natural 'padding' to cushion it. I certainly didn't expect to end up with nerve damage, although any surgery has its risks. I am gradually feeling better, nerve-wise, thank God. I also was found to have a ton of arthritis and necrotic bone in the joint during the surgery, so it's a good thing the surgery was done. Getting nerve damage was an unanticipated bonus. I had a popliteal nerve block with a pain pump installed in the back of my knee for about 4 days after surgery. I wonder if the installation of the pump screwed up my nerves somehow. Did anyone else have any experiences like mine?

Re: Life after a subtalar fusion

C.Hughes BSc(HONS) Pod. MSCh on 11/07/08 at 07:34 (251952)

The ankle joint will not take up the side to side motion of the STJ, as it moves SOLELY in the saggital plane, providing dorsal and plantar flexion ie. up & down.

Re: Life after a subtalar fusion

ramona b on 11/18/08 at 00:10 (252370)

hello Tina,

I injured my subtalar some 8 yrs. ago and i hadn't started to experience real pain until maybe a year or so ago. I've begun seeing an podiatriast who has treated it thus far with a freezing agent and a steroid shot, which seems to be working quite well. however, the pain eventually returns. she and i spoke on tge subtalar fusion. I am rather apprehensive about this procedure, but would love to get somethig done asap. Do you have any suggestions?

Please email me at ramonabeyerlein at yahoo.com

Thanks

Re: Life after a subtalar fusion

Louie M on 1/24/09 at 21:22 (254321)

I, like Tina was in a head on collision and crushed my foot, along with half the rest of me. The only advice I can give you is to go see an orthopedic surgeon other than a podiatrias. At least for the acual surgery. Not because I know but because I've heard. So I guess I really don't have anything to tell you. I was also told to have the surgery but scared. I'd like to hear from Tina e again to hear how she is doing. Before anything. But I think you only come to this site before the surgery and never again.

Re: Life after a subtalar fusion

Paul J on 2/06/09 at 13:22 (254838)

Hi Tina,

Just had my Subtalar Joint fused 10 weeks ago and am hopping for the best. How has yours healed? What was the realistic turn around. I start physical therapy on Monday, and am really excited to get my life back on track. I've been very active my entire life and at 35 years old it seemed like an extreem thing to do, but he pain was bad... Please contact me if you have a second.

Thank you

paul j

Re: Life after a subtalar fusion

Jeannie S. on 2/25/09 at 14:02 (255422)

Hi, I fell out a door 8 feet drop in June of 2007 and fractured my talus bone. The pain after was unbearable I was sent to workmens comp doctor who said live with the pain!!! I went for second opinon because I live on a farm in S W Missouri and unlevel ground is the norm. I could not walk outside without falling.I had tremedous swelling and had non stop pain. Life was no longer worth the hassle I became depressed. The doctor I saw in Tulsa okla was great he talked to me and tryed injections and I did research on the internet myself. He felt in time I would need fusion due to amount of pain and swelling. My orignal dr. said find a job sitting all the time (not realisict in my area). the dr. in tulsa said it was my choice but since the injection gave me at least 4 weeks of significantly demised pain. He felt it would be the answer for me. I had a fusion of the sublalar joint on Nov. 11,2008. I am still healing but my swelling has gone in the front part of my foot and I can walk stable. Yes I have a limp and always will, but it was going to be there anyway. I still have tremedous pain when I stand and walk a long time. But at least im healing and have a chance of losing more pain. Pain is the most disabling thing I have every went through and to have even a little relieved is good enough for me. I would recomend the injection prior to see if it works (believe me this hurts also, but a day or so later you should feel relief. If you do not get any relief, the fusion possibliy will not help. But long term injections are costly and only a short fix. i would consider the fusion and I would do it again if needed. Lots of luck. Jeannie

Re: Life after a subtalar fusion

Mara B. on 3/05/09 at 15:51 (255646)

I had a subtaler fusion done on my foot in March of 2008. In November I had to go back in for surgery to remove the 3' stabilizer pin that came up through my heel pad because I couldn't even step down without being in intense pain. It is now March of 2009 and my foot is still extremely swollen on the top of my foot and hurts when I walk and I still can't go back to work. I have been off for a year now and at my wits end. Maybe I should go see a different Orthopedic Surgeon for another opinion. The one I have won't even give me any pain medication for this. Any suggestions or help?????

Re: Life after a subtalar fusion

Kelly M on 3/16/09 at 09:15 (255947)

I totally understand where you are coming from. I am 35 years old and had a subtalar fusion in November. I thought life afterwards was finally going to be pain free, definitely not the case. I work in a nursing home and after being on my feet for a couple of hours my foot is throbbing, the pain is terrible and my foot is so swollen that I can't get my shoe off. My surgeon also will not refill my pain meds. I have tried Aleve, ibuprophen, tylenol...nothing works. I am going to go to my family doctor this week, hoping that she can give me something. Sorry I haven't been much help, but just know that you are not alone! Take Care!

Re: Life after a subtalar fusion

stuart m. on 3/25/09 at 12:30 (256363)

my name is stuart m. and i had a subtalar fusion on feb 23 2007, after a fall at work on april 4 2006. we tried to let it heal for about a year, but the fusion was inevitable. now, after about two years, i have just had my second surgery. the first one didn't fuse like it was supposed to, so i walked around in pain and could not work like i needed to to support my family. i have gone broke and am now looking at being in the poverty level for the rest of my life. workers comp. seems to think that a measly 15,000 is adequate payment for pain and suffering and also lost wages for the rest of my life. unfortunately, i have lost more than that in the first six months of my injury, not to mention what i will lose for the rest of my life.while a fusion may not be the best choice, it does however beat some of the alternatives, such as losing your foot altogether.all we can do is the best we can. but i think the impairment scale needs to be re-evaluated as they think that feet and ankles are not high on the scale of needed appendages.

Re: Life after a subtalar fusion

Dr. DGW on 3/25/09 at 16:24 (256372)

Very sorry to hear about your difficulties Stuart. I would assume then that you have had an Agreed Medical Evaluation and that you are represented by counsel?

Can I ask what state the injury occurred in? We had a major revision of the impairment guidelines subsequent to major revisions in the WC law in CA in 2004. Since that time I have not encountered any injured worker who is pleased with their settlement.

The irony is that while disability awards to injured workers is at a historic low, premiums for employers continue to rise to the degree that the insurance commissioner is investigating and considering sanctions. All of this is at the expense of the injured applicant unfortunately and the same greed that his driven our economy into the drink will force many qualified injured workers into financial despair or bankruptcy.

Re: Life after a subtalar fusion

chris on 3/25/09 at 20:27 (256376)

I had a fall and shattered both heels.2 1/2 yrs. and 5 surgeries later,I was finally willing to go through the fusion of one foot.The decision did'nt come easy.I was in chronic pain in both ankle joints and it seemed like things were only getting more and more unbearable even though I worked so hard to overcome.When I couldnt take anymore of the pain,I scheduled surgery.The recovery was quite painful,but not nearly as painful as I experienced from the prior hardware installation in both heels(2 plates and 25 large screws combined both heels).I am 6 weeks post op. and I can walk already without any cast, boot, or help from crutches.My doctor said my x-rays show the fusion looks like it was successful.still i'm told to wear at least a walking cast for another 6 weeks.I am pleased so far with the results.hoping this is a good move,because still have one more equally destroyed foot to consider in the near future.

Re: Life after a subtalar fusion

Peggy C. on 4/15/09 at 09:33 (256907)

I am scheduled for a subtalar fusion in a few months. I am 63 years old and get around pretty well, but I am concerned about using crutches for 6 weeks. My upper body strength is not that good. Will I be better off with a wheelchair and what about steps? I am really concerned about this part of the recovery and would appreciate some help.

Re: Life after a subtalar fusion

Ryan M. on 4/22/09 at 21:20 (257064)

Tina E,

It has been a few years since your sub talar joint fusion. How is it going for you now? I broke my ankle and foot in a car accident as well and already have had the 3rd through 5th metatarsels in my foot and the talar joint fused in my ankle. The subtalar joint is now causing me extreme pain so I am wondering how you have come along since your surgery. I wish you the best.

Ryan M.

Re: Life after a subtalar fusion

Donna R on 7/21/09 at 23:31 (259004)

I have had ankle of my right ankle joint about 5 or six years ago due to Rheumatoid Arthritis which has destroyed the subtalar joints in both my ankles. The pain was excruciating when walking or standing for more than 20 minutes at a time. The surgery helped the pain tremendously. I am now scheduled to have the other ankle fused after putting it off since the one better ankle has taken a lot of stress off the other. I was to have had this ankle fused right after getting the other one done, but have kept putting it off because it does take a long time getting over the surgery and taking the time to heal. The main thing is to take care and do exactly as your orthopedic surgeon tells you so it will heal well and will be worth the time and pain of the surgery. It took about 6 month's of healing for the ankle and another 6 months before I could say my ankle was definitely better than before. I am extremely glad I had the surgery. I felt like it gave me a lot of my life back. I don't know what your situation has been with your ankle, I think you just have to decide what's best for you. I still have pain, but it's not near as severe and I can stand for much longer periods of time. Good Luck with what ever deceision you make.

Re: Life after a subtalar fusion

keithr on 9/01/09 at 19:06 (260268)

i crushed my calcanus bone and shattered the joint. I had a subtalar fusion in march 09. I am now walking with no pain just a little sore. the doc said it is 1 year for full recovery

Re: Life after a subtalar fusion

rick f on 9/02/09 at 16:06 (260292)

i am writing this to whomever needs answers on the subtalar fusion.my right ankle was fused in 1997,i was in my late 20s.i had ankle pain from the time i was 12 years old,right and left.the first surgery was done on my right foot.the surgeon placed a 4 inch bone screw from the top of my foot to the bottom of my heel.he used a bone graft from my hip.i was in a cast for four months and no weight bearing.make no mistake this a big procedure,if anyone says it isnt,hasnt had it done.i was fairly young and playing ball 3-4 nights a week.in six months i was running full steam painfree,it fealt stiff but ok.until,you move it too far.i had my left ankle fused in 2005.much older and longer recovery time.2 four inch screws and no weight bearing and casted for five months.i can say from experience the sooner the surgery the better.be careful when choosing a ortho doc.i dont think my first doc had done alot of them from the scarring.the ankle specialist dr paul braaton in modesto,ca did my second,third,fourth and fifth surgery.he is the man.

i am 41 now i have had a total of 5 surgeries.2 fusions,3 hardware removal.i am in recovery stage as we speek.the last 2 surgeries have been done in the last 5 months.

in closing:you are never the same.i cant run,jump or do any heavy lifting.cant do construction anymore.its worth it,but,it comes with a price

Re: Life after a subtalar fusion

chris w on 9/28/09 at 15:35 (260898)

It has been six years since my subtalar fusion. For me really the hardest part was recovering strength. I was twenty when i had the surgery. and my arthritis had become unbearable. If i sat for any period of time especailly. I really had no other option. The quality of my life improved dramaticly. especially after the first year. occasionly there is minor pain. and the condition throws of your walking gate just a little bit. i now hike for miles with no problem. I lift weights. and enjoy all kinds of activitys. running more than a mile i develop a limp. but i still work hard to maintain total body streangth. Most days i hardly notice it. and my strength and stamina are such that most people are totally suprised when they find out i have screws in my left heal. maybe just a tip the stronger you are the better the results