There is a prevalent myth (even among many orthopedic experts) that it is impossible to re-grow Subtalar joint cartilage, once it has been lost. The vast majority of orthopedic surgical solutions for foot and ankle joint problems today seem to be a “one-size fits all” suite of procedures that seek to eliminate pain at the expense of permanently eliminating joint mobility. This is not a trade-off that many active patients are anxious to make. However, until recently there has been no alternative to Subtalar joint fusions.
Fortunately, Dr. Rozbruch and his staff at the Hospital for Special Surgery (HSS) have been offering Distraction Arthroplasty as a Subtalar joint preserving procedure to many patients for the last 10 years. It is great to know that there is a joint-preserving alternative to fusion. I suspect that many orthopedic surgeons will embrace joint distraction over the next few years once they recognize its virtues.
I am an ex-runner who had worn out his Subtalar joint from 46 years of jogging. After a year of conservative therapy I was still unable to walk because of the loss of cartilage in my Subtalar joint.
I recently underwent Subtalar Distraction surgery with Dr. Rozbruch at the HSS. I am very impressed with how his office and the HSS has handled my procedure, especially considering that I had to commute from Dallas Texas. The Hospital accommodations and food were great (~3 nights)!!
I will tell you that this procedure is not for wimps!!! However, this is by far the best option if you want to regain the mobility of your Subtalar joint. There is about a 90% chance of success for this procedure and if it doesn’t work you can still do a fusion.
I was in the required distraction scaffold for 93 days. I have been out of the distraction frame for 5 months now and my ankle is feeling stronger every day. I have not been able to walk like this for a very long time.
I really recommend Dr. Rozbruch for anyone who has lost a significant amount of Subtalar joint cartilage. He is by far the best orthopedic surgeon that I will ever meet. He is quite capable of thinking “outside the box” on all things and he welcomes and seems to enjoy difficult questions from his patients.
Charles P. Bernardin