Subtalar Arthritis or Instability

The subtalar joint is the joint below the ankle that allows us to bend the ankle back and forth and walk on uneven terrain. Arthritis or instability of the subtalar joint causes uncomfortable, sometimes excruciating pain in the back of the foot or ankle, typically described as being “deep.”

Subtalar instability is difficult to diagnose. It rarely follows a complete dislocation, which more than likely results in pain, stiffness, and arthritis. Instead, it can be suggested by the patient’s feeling of ankle instability, or a sensation of the ankle giving out, as well as a need to look at the ground when walking.

Subtalar arthritis is usually caused by a fracture in the foot, typically the heel bone. It can also be caused by excessive wear and tear on the joints resulting from too much activity. The most common symptom of subtalar arthritis is pain.

This pain is usually located in the ankle and back of the foot and is aggravated when the ankle turns inward or outward. In addition to pain, the patient may also experience stiffness and swelling of the ankle joint as well as a feeling of general instability in the ankle joint.


If you’re suffering from subtalar arthritis there are several things you can do from home to prevent it including adequate rest between physical activity. Overworking your joints will cause fatigue. You can also take an anti-inflammatory to help reduce swelling and pain.


Treatment of subtalar arthritis or instability usually involves limiting joint movement by wearing a brace or comfortable shoe, decreasing standing or walking on uneven terrain, or taking anti-inflammatory pain medication to alleviate any swelling or irritation.

Regenerative medicine, such as a stem cell injection is an option for some patients, with very little rehabilitation afterward. Surgery is indicated for subtalar arthritis or instability when all non-operative treatment has failed. The most common surgical procedure used is a fusion of the subtalar joint to improve ankle function and relieve pain.

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