Vertical talus is diagnosed at birth. It is a rare deformity in babies and is also called congenital vertical talus. One or both feet may be affected and it can cause flatfoot.
It is not painful for the newborn or toddler; however, left untreated it can lead to disability and discomfort later in life.
The talus is the bone that makes up the lower part of the ankle joint. Together the talus and the heel bone form the subtalar joint, which is important for walking. Because the talus is the connector of the foot and leg, it helps allow movement in the ankle and transfers weight and pressure across the ankle joint.
In vertical talus, the talus has formed in the incorrect position and other foot bones have shifted on top of it.
Cause of vertical talus
The cause of vertical talus is unknown; however, it is often associated with a neuromuscular disease or other disorders such as:
- Spina bifida
Symptoms of a vertical talus
- The foot points upward toward the shin and can even rest on the shin
- The bottom of the foot is stiff and has no arch
Vertical talus is diagnosed at birth or during an ultrasound. Your physician may perform tests to discover if your infant has other conditions. An X-ray may be necessary to confirm the diagnosis as vertical talus is often misdiagnosed as clubfoot or flatfoot.
Treatment for vertical talus
Treatment focuses on restoring a child’s foot to a functional and stable condition. It is crucial that vertical talus is treated early so the deformity does not progress. Without treatment, a child walking on a deformed foot can cause painful skin problems, calluses and inability to walk normally.
Surgery is the most common treatment for vertical talus. However, your doctor may recommend nonsurgical treatment first, which includes:
- Stretching and casting the foot to increase flexibility
- Physical therapy exercises to stretch the foot
- Casting, bracing or stretching programs to correct the deformity
Surgery for vertical talus
Surgery is recommended at 9 to 12 months of age. Surgery is necessary to correct problems with the foot bones, ligaments and tendons. During the operation, pins are used to keep hones in the correct position.
After the operation, a cast is applied to keep the child’s foot in the correct position. After four to six weeks, the cast is removed and a brace or shoe may be required to prevent the deformity from reoccurring.
After treatment, your child’s foot should be stable and functional for the rest of their life.
Learn more about pediatric orthopedic care at OrthoIndy.
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