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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. Over time the bone surfaces in your subtalar joint can suffer wear and tear due to injury or arthritis.

What happens during subtalar fusion?

Subtalar fusion is usually performed under general anaesthetic. It usually takes about 90 minutes. Your surgeon will make an incision (cut) on the outside of your ankle. They will clean and clear any damaged joint surfaces and fix your joint together using one or two screws through the back of your heel. You will not feel the screw and it does not need to be removed. 

Subtalar fusion is sometimes performed arthroscopically. Be sure and discuss what method will be used with your surgeon. 

Your ankle will have a cast applied immediately following surgery. You may have a small tube (drain) in your wound to drain any excess fluid.

After your subtalar fusion

You may be in hospital one to two nights. Please let our Healthcare Team know if you are in any pain. 

You should not put your weight on your fused ankle for six to 12 weeks following surgery. Our physiotherapists will visit you to teach you how to move around with a walker or crutches. They will work with you to ensure you are moving about on your own before you are discharged.

Going home after subtalar fusion

Your subtalar joint needs to be fully fused before you can drive. Please arrange for someone to take you home and look in on you in the first few days. You should rest and keep your leg elevated to control swelling. After 10 to 14 days you will need to come back to have your stitches removed. You may be given a lighter weight cast. 

Be sure and take any pain medications as directed. 

Your surgeon may schedule regular x-rays to assess the extent of fusion. As the fusion gets stronger you may be allowed to start putting weight on your foot. You might need to work with a physiotherapist to learn to walk without a limp. 

You should plan on at least 10 to 12 weeks of recovery before returning to normal activities. Be sure and discuss any return to work with your surgeon. It can take up to one year to feel the full benefits of subtalar fusion. 

Most patients make a good recovery from subtalar fusion. You should discuss returning to any sport or other rigorous activities with your surgeon. 

Any surgical procedure can result in complications:

Specific complications of ankle fusion:

  • Nerve damage
  • Numbness
  • Nonunion (lack of fusion)
  • Malunion (displaced healing)
Find your nearest hospital that provides this treatment

Shenfield Road, Brentwood, CM15 8EH

01277 695695
Overall rating Good

3 Clifton Hill, Clifton, Bristol, BS8 1BN

0117 906 4870
Overall rating Good

4 Trumpington Road, Cambridge, CB2 8AF

01223 370 922
Overall rating Outstanding
Cardiff and Vale  

Cardiff Bay Hospital, Dunleavy Drive, Cardiff, CF11 0SN

02920 836700
Haywards Heath  

Burrell Road, Haywards Heath, RH16 1UD

01444 456999
Overall rating Good

2 Leighton Street, Leeds, LS1 3EB

0113 388 2111
Overall rating Outstanding

Scraptoft Lane, Leicester, LE5 1HY

0116 276 9401
Overall rating Good
Newcastle upon Tyne  

Clayton Road, Newcastle-upon-Tyne, NE2 1JP

01912 816 131
Overall rating Good

Derriford Road, Plymouth, PL6 8BG

01752 775 861
Overall rating View rating

Junction Road, Norton, Stockton on Tees, TS20 1PX

01642 360 100
Overall rating Outstanding

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