Talonavicular arthritis (TA) occurs when the cushioning surrounding the talonavicular joint in your foot wears down. This joint is near the back of your foot, by your ankle.
It moves in all directions because it’s a ball and socket joint. This joint gives your body stability as you walk.
If you have TA, you may experience a variety of symptoms, such as:
- pain that appears or gets worse when you walk or engage in other exercises
- stiffness or a lack of movement near the joint
- pain or stiffness when you wake up in the morning or after you’ve been resting
- swelling near the joint, which may be warm to the touch or red in color
- cracking noises near the joint
Symptoms may develop over time or all at once.
You may notice TA when you’re walking. That’s because the joint gives your body stability by moving sideways when you walk. Though your ankle moves up and down, this joint and others in the back of your foot give you the flexibility to walk on non-flat surfaces.
Arthritis occurs when the cartilage between joints wears down. Cartilage gives your joints cushioning so they do not rub against bones. Arthritis symptoms occur when the cartilage gets too thin.
You can get TA at any age.
Here are some reasons TA symptoms may develop:
- osteoarthritis related to:
- injury from a fracture, ankle sprain, infection, or misalignment
- aging or overuse of the joint
- weight gain
- family history of osteoarthritis
- leg alignment issues
- inflammatory arthritis like:
You may experience symptoms years after an injury to your foot. According to the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons, you are seven times more likely to experience arthritis in an injured joint than in one that has not been injured, even if you receive proper treatment for the trauma.
You should speak with a doctor if you experience TA symptoms. These may inhibit your ability to participate in daily activities like exercise, errands, or work. You may even have difficulty sleeping with severe symptoms.
The talonavicular joint is one of 30 joints in your foot, so a doctor will have to conduct an exam and order some tests to confirm TA.
They will first speak with you to discuss your symptoms, take a personal health history, ask about your family health history, and inquire about any medications you take.
They will perform a physical examination. They will probably look at your foot, ankle, and even legs. They may touch the area near the joint and move your foot and ankle around in different directions.
A doctor will ask you to walk around the room or down a hallway to examine your gait. They will check how straight you walk, how long your stride is, and how strong your feet and ankles are. The doctor may ask to look at your footwear to see how it has worn down over time.
Depending on your exam, a doctor may order laboratory or imaging tests, such as:
- Blood tests: These can measure inflammation as well as determine whether you might have a type of inflammatory arthritis or another condition like gout.
- Imaging tests: These include MRI scans, X-rays, and CT scans. They can help the doctor see your bones and tissues. You’ll need to stand during an X-ray to properly capture your condition.
There are many ways to treat TA. You may want to start with adjustments at home, or a doctor may recommend medical treatments if you have moderate or severe symptoms.
Try these home remedies when you begin to notice symptoms that may be related to TA.
Taking a break from activity or modifying your exercise routine could help with TA symptoms. Rather than engaging in weight-bearing exercises like running or hard-court sports, you can try riding a bike or swimming.
Lose weight (if needed)
Find more support for your feet
Some support strategies that can help TA symptoms include:
- wearing foot- and ankle-stabilizing shoes
- adding orthotics to your shoes
- using a brace to support your feet or ankles
- using a cane
Non-operative medical treatments
Next steps to treat TA that do not involve surgery include:
You can try over-the-counter nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) like ibuprofen to relieve symptoms. Keep in mind that using them for too long may result in side effects like stomach ulcers. A doctor can advise you on whether and how long to use NSAIDs.
Chronic conditions like inflammatory arthritis require medications that calm your body’s immune system. These medications include disease-modifying antirheumatic drugs and biologics.
A physical therapist may be able to teach you certain exercises and movements to strengthen your foot and ankle. You may need to complete them daily to maximize their benefits.
You may be able to get a steroid injection in your doctor’s office. The doctor will inject a steroid like cortisone into your foot to relieve swelling and pain in the short term.
A few types of surgery may relieve symptoms caused by TA. A doctor will recommend a procedure based on your symptoms and the results of imaging tests.
Fusion surgery is a common surgical treatment for TA. It involves fusing your joint together so it does not move.
This surgery requires anesthesia and a brief hospital stay. The doctor will open your foot and fuse the joint together with screws, pins, or staples. You’ll need to wear a cast for up to 12 weeks. It may take up to 1 year to fully rehabilitate your foot following the procedure.
A 2014 study found that all participants experienced improved symptoms from this procedure, especially with pain. Participants said they would undergo the procedure again if needed.
This surgery can rebuild the joint without fusing it to other bones in the feet. It can repair and remove bone and cartilage damaged by injury.
One 2021 case study of a teenager found that 2 years after reconstruction, the joint had “remodeled,” which means it had become healthy and functioning again.
TA is a type of arthritis that affects your feet and ability to walk. A doctor can diagnose TA and recommend treatment. These include at-home strategies like rest and proper footwear, as well as medications and surgery.