Subtalar dislocation refers to separation of the tarsal bones in the foot, including the calcaneus (heel bone) and navicular bones, from the talus. It is a painful but rare injury that usually occurs in high-impact sports like basketball.
A great deal of force is required to cause this dislocation, and as a result there may be significant injury to other structures in the foot, including tendons, ligaments and occasionally bones, with fractures frequently affecting the ankle (malleoli), navicular, calcaneus and talus bones and somtimes the fifth metatarsal.
If the skin has not been brokened and there are no fractures, a doctor or surgeon should be able to re-locate the joints in the emergency department or the operating theatre. When this is the case, recovery following this injury is rapid, with a cast and crutches for around six weeks and rehabilitation for several more weeks.
Most people with uncomplicated subtalar dislocation have only mild stiffness and/or arthritis in the foot in later life. However, athletes are encouraged to wear ankle supports and/or orthotics during sports to prevent re-injury during the first 6 months to a year of the dislocation.