What Is a Talonavicular Joint?

An x-ray can be used to determine if a person has a broken talonavicular joint.
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  • Written By: Licia Morrow
  • Edited By: C. Wilborn
  • Last Modified Date: 28 July 2014
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The talonavicular joint is one of the joints that makes up the ankle, allowing the foot and lower leg to articulate. Three separate joints at the hind foot comprise what people think of as the ankle joint; orthopedically speaking, the "ankle" is technically the first of these joints, located at the junction between the tibia, fibula, and talus bone. The talonavicular joint is the lowest of the three ankle joints, spanning to the midfoot.

At this part of the ankle, located on the inside of the middle foot, the talus and navicular bones articulate. This joint neighbors two additional structures, the calcaneocuboid and the subtalar joints. Together, they provide stability across the midfoot and allow the foot and ankle to flex during walking and other physical activities. The series of small articulations in the ankle and foot make it one of the most complex areas of the skeleton, along with the hands.

As people age, arthritis in this joint is very common, especially if someone has a history of athleticism or hard physical labor. Arthritis may manifest initially as a feeling of pain, soreness, and tenderness in the midfoot. The patient may notice that the area around the talonavicular joint feels hot, and the surrounding tissue can swell, which may make shoes uncomfortable. It is also possible to break this area of the foot with crush injuries or severe falls.

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Treatment of a talonavicular joint disorder usually starts with a physical examination and x-ray. The doctor may order additional imaging, such as an MRI study, if there are concerns about hairline fractures or other injuries that may be difficult to detect on an x-ray. The x-ray may show a break or the tell-tale signs of inflammation. In severe arthritis, inflammation can cause bone spurs to develop along the bones of the ankle, and these may exacerbate the pain and soreness.

Conservative treatment can include anti-inflammatory medications, rest, compression, and hot or cold compresses. If these measures do not work, the doctor may recommend a brace or walking boot to stabilize the joint and give it a chance to recover. Surgery may be necessary in serious talonavicular injuries. A surgeon can pin the bones of the joint if necessary in addition to trimming away any bone spurs. It may be possible to perform a minimally invasive procedure through small incisions around the ankle joint to limit the risk of complications and speed the patient's healing time.

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Discuss this Article

anon938050
Post 9

I had osteoarthritis in my talonavicular joint. It was super painful. I am an elite level mountain-ultra runner. I tried everything, and finally, the only option was fusion. I was told I'd never run well again, and never more than six miles.

I have to say, I am no longer an elite level runner, and 100 mile races are out. But I run 10-20 miles every day and still race. I love that I have no pain. It is harder to run. There is no toe-off. You have to relearn a running form. But it can work!

anon337474
Post 8

I have just been diagnosed with severe degeneration of the 'talonavicular.' I've had chronic pain for years, sometimes good, other times not. This area of my foot has been diagnosed as 30 years older than the rest of body! I'm fine in other ways, but the doctor said I have to suffer it until it gets too painful, then I would need an operation to solder my foot together, which would leave me partially disabled! There must be other options!

anon311948
Post 7

After five years of try this, try that, I'm going to have a fusion done next week. I just hope that I'm going to be able to stop taking painkillers now.

anon291231
Post 6

Pain in the talonavicular joint can sometimes be relieved by custom orthotics - prescribed by a podiatrist and fitted by a prosthetician - that have a built-up medial arch and deep heel cup.

The built-up medial arch relieves up-down stress on the joint, and the deep heel cup stabilizes the peroneal ligaments to reduce side-to-side stress. See a good podiatrist.

With severe pain, try upper-body, hip, and thigh workouts only (best in a well-equipped gym), followed by stretching the lower legs and feet while sitting flat; this reduces inflammation in the talonavicular joint without subjecting it to potential further injury from a workout that includes the feet and lower legs. Taping the ankle joints can help as well.

anon290845
Post 5

I plan to run a marathon but have talonavicular arthritis in my left foot. It hurts somed ays and not others. I am prescribed diclofenac which helps, but are there any other hints tips to help me beat this pain?

B707
Post 4

I was just looking at some charts of the anatomy of the feet. There is an unbelievable number of bones, joints, muscles, and ligaments. It's amazing how complex the feet are. But, then it has a big job to do. Those two little feet have to hold up the whole body when we stand or move.

They have to balance us and be able to turn and stop quickly. Many older people get arthritis of the talonavicular joint, one of the ankle joints. It can cause a lot of problems. The ankle bone can get little outgrowths. They hurt and wearing shoes can be torture. I know this for a fact. I need to talk to a doctor about arthritis in my ankle. It's getting pretty painful.

Misscoco
Post 3

In the process of human evolution, feet had to do an incredible amount of evolving before the human species could get up on their two feet and walk, run,jump and do all the things we do with our feet. Developing our ability to walk must have been a long evolutionary process.

And now our feet aren't serving us very well. And it's mostly our fault. Women wear those high heel shoes, that pinch the toes and put feet into strange contortions.

Our ancestors walked on soft surfaces. Our feet weren't meant to walk on hard surfaces, like cement. Fortunately, companies are making good shoes now, so our feet are better protected.

But, we still hear all the time, "oh, my aching feet." I'm one of those with pain in my feet.

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