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Bunion Clinic

Subtalar Joint Arthrodesis

Post-Op Guide


Osteoarthritis Subtalar Joint Surgery: Arthrodesis (Fusion) Subtalar Joint

Post operative orders:

Plaster backslab 2 weeks – this is applied in the OR. Leave intact – do not remove. Keep clean and dry at all times.
Elevate: as much as possible
Ice: at least 3 times per day 20 mins on, 20 mins off (ice should not be directly contacting skin or dampen the plaster)


Please keep the wounds with any dressings applied at the time of surgery clean and dry and intact.
The dressings will be changed at the time of first review in the office, 10-14 days post surgery.
Signs of infection: increased redness, swelling, malodorous discharge or persistent wound ooze, feeling unwell, fever. If these occur please contact the office straight away.

Weight bearing Status:

NON weight bearing for 6 weeks after surgery.
6 week review – may be permitted to commence gradual, progressive weight bearing in boot over the next 6 weeks. This will be confirmed at time of review.
3 months – Transition normal shoe wear. Gradual increase walking, light exercise


Casts and boots and strong pain medications can interfere with your ability to drive.
You must be able to safely operate the vehicle including the accelerator, brake and clutch pedals at all times and respond appropriately in the event of an emergency

When safely weight bearing without crutches; Minimum 12 weeks if the driving foot was operated on.


0-6 weeks: NonWB with crutches/knee scooter and limit time on foot, core strengthening and upper limb program.
6 weeks: gait retraining, Protected WB in Boot, core strengthening and upper limb program. Non impact exercise e.g. elliptical, swimming, stationery bike.
12 weeks: may progress with gait retraining, generalised stretching/strengthening fitness program and progressive increase in Lower limb weight bearing exercises, stationery bike, swimming.

Pain Medication:

Strong pain medication may be prescribed on discharge from hospital. In general this will not be required for >1 week. It is important to take pain relief as required to stay comfortable post surgery.
Change to simple pain medication when the pain has reduced e.g. panadol/ panadeine.
No Alcohol or driving whilst taking strong pain medication Narcotics eg Endone are not prescribed in the office.

DVT (Deep Venous Thrombosis or blood clots) prophylaxis:

100mg aspirin daily whilst NWB 6 weeks OR other anticoagulation as prescribed.


Expected to decrease when elevated.
May have persistent swelling for up to 2 years post surgery


It is usually safe to travel short distances on a plane or car 1 week after surgery You may experience increased swelling therefore try and keep the limb elevated.

It is more difficult to get around the airport and plane. You will need assistance.

If there is any concern regarding DVT then air travel or long car travel is not advised. In general long haul flights should be avoided for at least 3 months post surgery.

Please take usual precautions for healthy travel such as elevation of the limb, regular movements of the limb and moving around the cabin, stay well hydrated and avoiding alcohol. Additional DVT prophylaxis may be required.
Please discuss any travel plans prior to your surgery

Follow up:

2 weeks – Wound review, removal of sutures. Continue Non weight bearing in CAM Boot.
6 weeks – Xray and decision as to weight bearing status
12 weeks /6 months – Xray


Please contact the office (during working hours) or attend your nearest Emergency Department with any concerns e.g. increased leg swelling despite elevation for 30 mins, pain in calf, chest pain, shortness of breath, wound ooze, increasing pain despite pain relief.