Tarsal coalition: does your child have ongoing foot pain?

Written by: Mr Darius Rad
Edited by: Carlota Pano

Tarsal coalition is a foot condition, more frequent in teenagers, that can limit function and affect wellbeing.


Mr Darius Rad, consultant paediatric orthopaedic surgeon, provides an expert insight into tarsal coalition, including what tarsal coalition is, what are the common locations and how a tarsal coalition is treated.



What is a tarsal coalition?


A tarsal coalition is a connection usually between two of the tarsal bones that form the architecture of the mid or posterior portion of the foot. This connection can be either bony or fibrous in nature and can act as a bone bridge between the two bones, where there would normally be a joint.


What is the most common location of tarsal coalitions?


The two most common locations are the calcaneal-navicular and the talo-calcaneal. Tarsal coalition can occur across other joints too, but it is less common.


How can we suspect we have a tarsal coalition?


The most common age a child presents with a tarsal coalition is around their early teenage years. They will usually complain of foot pain, which is also associated with a rigid or semi-rigid flatfoot deformity. The reason for tarsal coalition occurring in a person’s early teenage years is due to foot bone formation, which finalises at that time. Bone coalitions (or bone bridges) only become structurally complete when a body is close to reaching skeletal maturity.


Is a tarsal coalition serious? Do they hurt?


Tarsal coalition is not a serious medical condition, however, if a child should develop such a coalition, they could suffer foot pain which is not related to any trauma. Ultimately, this would limit activities including walking, which could become a difficult task in itself.


How are tarsal coalitions treated?


The first line of treatment for a tarsal coalition is conservative, using orthotics (insoles) that are recommended by a physiotherapist, podiatrist or orthopaedic surgeon. Orthotics can be correlated later with physiotherapy if another leg or foot soft tissue structure needs to be stretched or strengthened.


If these methods of treatment fail to resolve symptoms, a paediatric orthopaedic surgeon can be of help by performing a surgical procedure which excises the bony bridge and prevents it from reoccurring.


What could happen if a tarsal coalition goes untreated?


An untreated tarsal coalition can create discomfort while performing sports, activities and even walking while going to school. This can limit a child’s function and hinder their wellbeing.



If you or your child have a tarsal coalition, don’t hesitate to visit Mr Rad’s Top Doctors profile today to receive the utmost quality orthopaedic assessment and management.

By Mr Darius Rad
Paediatric orthopaedics

Mr Darius Rad is a consultant paediatric orthopaedic surgeon based in Southampton, who specialises in cerebral palsy, lower limb deformity corrections and knee sports surgery alongside foot and ankle deformity correction. He privately practises at Spire Southampton Hospital and his NHS base is University Hospital Southampton NHS Foundation Trust.

Mr Rad has varied educational achievements from respected institutions and medical centres. He obtained an MBBS from the Victor Papilian School of Medicine at Lucian Blaga University, Romania, and then went on to higher training in Cluj-Napoca, where he started his residency programme. He later continued his training in the UK focusing on trauma, deformity correction and foot and ankle pathology in a multitude of NHS trusts across the UK, culminating with the Royal London Hospital in his senior training years. He is also a fellow of the European Board of Orthopaedics and Traumatology at the European Union of Medical Specialists (UEMS).

In addition to his training in Trauma and Orthopaedics in both Romania and the UK, Mr Rad completed several esteemed fellowships and further honed his skills at the Great Ormond Street Hospital for Children NHS Foundation Trust, the Royal Alexandra Children's Hospital, and the Children's Hospital for Wales, in Cardiff.

Mr Rad focuses his practice on deformity correction surgery for children and adolescents, and the pandemic provided him with an opportunity to expand and solidify his areas of expertise. He thrived on being able to reach out to patients over the period, helping them communicate despite the disruption it caused.

He is chair of the publicity committee and the acting webadmin for the British Society for Children's Orthopaedic Surgery (BSCOS) and is the chair of the European Paediatric Orthopaedic Society (EPOS) Website committee. Furthermore, he is a member of the British Society for Surgery in Cerebral Palsy (BSSCP).

Mr Rad is also a member of the British Orthopaedic Association (BOA) and AO Foundation - AO Trauma, where he is a National Faculty member. He is also a trustee for the Cerebral Palsy Sport charitable organisation.

View Profile

Overall assessment of their patients

  • Related procedures
  • Congenital malformations
    Abnormal gait
    Elbow Pain
    Fractured elbow
    Shoulder dislocation
    Fractured shoulder
    Chondromalacia (runner's knee)
    Medial collateral ligament
    This website uses our own and third-party Cookies to compile information with the aim of improving our services, to show you advertising related to your preferences as well analysing your browsing habits. You can change your settings HERE.