What is Hindfoot Arthritis?
Hindfoot arthritis occurs in one or more joints between the ankle bone (talus), heel bone (calcaneus), and the next two bones down the foot (navicular and cuboid). The joints consist of the subtalar, talonavicular, and calcaneocuboid joints. Arthritis of the hindfoot is much less common than hip or knee arthritis. Hindfoot arthritis may occur following an injury, chronic malalignment such as a flat foot or after a previous ankle fusion. These conditions change the contact forces and load bearing mechanics of the joints. Loss of cartilage then ensues.
What are the Symptoms?
Arthritis is associated with pain and stiffness. The symptoms typically come on gradually over months or years. In the hindfoot, pain can occur initially on the lateral side (outside) or on the top of the foot just below the ankle. Pain is worse with activity but as the disease progresses can be present constantly. Night pain is common making sleep difficult. These symptoms may affect your ability to walk, negotiate stairs and do your normal daily activities. Uneven ground may be difficult to negotiate.
What is the Treatment ?
In the early stages non-surgical treatment may be effective. Changing your activities, wearing an ankle brace or boot, and pain medication such as paracetamol or anti-inflammatories may be sufficient.
Failing the above, surgery can be considered. Double or triple arthrodesis is generally required and provides reliable pain relief.