Over time the bone surfaces in your subtalar joint can suffer wear and tear due to injury or arthritis. If conservative treatment methods are not working for you your surgeon may recommend investigation or treatment using arthroscopy.
Your subtalar joint sits just below your ankle joint. Where your ankle joint only allows for up and down movement, your subtalar joint allows your foot to move in circulator rotations and side to side making walking on uneven surfaces possible.
What happens during subtalar arthroscopy?
Arthroscopy is very often performed as a day case with the patient under general anaesthetic. Sometimes it is performed using local anaesthetic and light sedation. The procedure usually takes about 30 to 45 minutes.
Your surgeon will make several small incisions (cuts) in your ankle. They will insert a tiny camera through one of the incisions to examine any problems in the area. They will insert other instruments to wash out any loose material caused by wear and tear of the joint surfaces and remove any bone spurs or swelling of the lining of your ankle joint. They may be able to make small repairs to torn cartilage through the small incisions. Your surgeon will close the incisions with stitches or steri-strips. Your ankle may be bandaged.
Going home after subtalar arthroscopy
You should be able to go home the day of your arthroscopy. You will not be able to drive so be sure and arrange for someone to take you home. You may not be able to bear weight on your foot for several days following your procedure. Please remember to discuss this restriction with your surgeon.
Your ankle may be swollen for several weeks. Painkillers may help ease the pain in the first few weeks.
A physiotherapist will show you exercises to help you regain your muscle strength and get moving again.
You should keep the area clean and dry until your incisions are well healed. You will need to return to have your stitches removed 10-14 days after your procedure.
Everyone heals at a different pace. Your surgeon or physiotherapist will advise you about when you can return to normal activities. You will be able to drive again when you can make an emergency stop without damaging your ankle. Please discuss your return to driving and to work with your surgeon.
Depending on what repairs are made during your arthoroscopy most patients return can return to strenuous activity and heavy lifting six to eight weeks after surgery.
What are the complications of subtalar arthroscopy?
Any surgical procedure may result in complications. These could include:
- Infection of the surgical site (wound)
- Blood clots
Specific complications in subtalar arthroscopy may include:
- Damage to nerves
- Infection in the joint
- Bleeding in the joint causing pain and swelling
- Complex regional pain syndrome - a condition that causes long-term (chronic) burning pain in one of the limbs.
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