Symptoms, Treatment & Complications of a Talus Fracture

X-ray of a Talus FractureA talus fracture is a severe injury that may have long-term or permanent consequences. The talus is a small bone between the heel bone and the lower leg bones, the tibia and fibula where they join to form the ankle joint. The talus also meets the foot bones to form the subtalar joint. The talus is responsible for both upward and downward movement, and inward and outward movement of the foot. Both the ankle joint and subtalar joint are often affected by a fracture of the talus.

The most common cause of talus fractures is car accidents, followed by falls.

Symptoms of a Talus Fracture

If you have a fractured talus, you may experience

  • Severe pain
  • Inability to put weight on your foot
  • Substantial swelling and tenderness
  • Piece of bone protruding through skin (open fracture)

An x-ray, CT scan or MRI will locate the fracture and determine whether the bones are aligned or displaced and whether there are any loose pieces of bone that will need to be removed.

Treatment of a Talus Fracture

In very few cases of nondisplaced fractures, surgery may be avoided and you will wear a cast and put no weight on the foot for six to eight weeks. But this is an exception and rarely happens. In the vast majority of cases, surgery will be necessary to minimize complications down the road.

The surgeon will realign the bones and use screws to hold them in place. If there are small bone fragments, they will be removed and bone grafts will be needed to restructure the ankle.

The surgery will be followed by a course of physical therapy.

Complications

One reason a fractured talus is such a feared injury is the incidence of serious complications that can severely curtain your activities and may be permanent.

  • Infection, especially in an open fracture
  • Avascular necrosis (AVN), or partial death of the bone tissue caused by disruption of the blood supply to the bone as a result of the injury. AVN can lead to total collapse of the bone , necessitating an ankle fusion or total ankle replacement surgery
  • Arthritis of the ankle joint or subtalar joint resulting from damage to the cartilage, possibly requiring surgery to fuse the bones using bone grafts
  • Deformity of the foot (varus deformity) which can only be corrected with a surgery called a triple arthrodesis to fuse the three joints in the back of the foot

Even in the best-case scenario, a fractured talus is an injury that will put you out of action for months, causing you to miss work and avoid most other activities, because you must keep all weight off the foot.

In the worst case, you will probably need additional surgeries and may always have pain and stiffness in the ankle.

Anyone who has suffered a fracture of the talus can expect to incur high medical expenses and lost earnings, in addition to months of pain and inactivity. If the accident that caused the fracture was the result of another person’s carelessness, you may be able to recover money to compensate you for your losses. You should have an experienced personal injury attorney represent you.