A talar fracture that is left untreated or that doesn’t heal properly will create problems for you later. Your foot function will be impaired, you will develop arthritis and chronic pain, and the bone may collapse.
Immediate first aid treatment for a talar fracture is to apply a well-padded splint around the back of the foot and leg from the toe to the upper calf. Elevate the foot above the level of the heart and apply ice for 20 minutes every hour or two until you can see a doctor. Don’t put any weight on the foot.
In rare cases, a talar fracture can be treated without surgery if X-rays show that the bones have not moved out of alignment. You will have to wear a cast for at least six to eight weeks and will not be able to put any weight on the foot during that time. Afterwards, your doctor will give you some exercises to help restore the range of motion and strength to your foot and ankle. Most fractures of the talus require surgery to minimize later complications. The orthopaedic surgeon will realign the bones and use metal screws to hold the pieces in place. If there are small fragments of bone, they may be removed and bone grafts used to restore the structural integrity of the joint.
After the surgery, your foot will be put in a cast for six to eight weeks and you will not be able to put any weight on the foot for at least three months. As the bones begin to heal, your orthopaedist may order X-rays or a magnetic resonance image (MRI) to see whether blood supply to the bone is returning. If the blood supply is disrupted, the bone tissue could die, a condition called avascular necrosis or osteonecrosis. This could cause the bone to collapse. Even if the bones heal properly, you may still experience arthritis in later years. Most of the talus is covered with articular cartilage, which enables bones to move smoothly against each other. If the cartilage is damaged, the bones will rub against each other, resulting in pain and stiffness. Treatments for arthritis include activity modifications, ankle-foot orthoses, joint fusion, bone grafting and ankle replacement.