A heel bone fracture, also referred to as a calcaneus fracture, occurs when the heel is crushed under the weight of the body after a fall from a ladder or a car crash.
The feet contain nearly one-fourth of all the bones in your body, which provide you with support and movement. There are 26 bones in one foot: 14 toe bones, five long metatarsal bones and seven tarsal bones. The heel bone (calcaneus) is the largest of the tarsal bones in the foot.
Although fractures of the heel bone are uncommon, it can be extremely painful and may cause the heel bone to widen or shorten. Additionally, a heel bone fracture can often lead to chronic pain and permanent disability.
What causes a calcaneus fracture?
- Fall from a height
- Twisting injury to the ankle
- Car collision
What are the symptoms of a heel fracture?
- Bruising of the foot
- Heel deformity
- Inability to walk or put weight on the heel
The severity of symptoms can vary based on:
- The number of fractures in and around the heel bone
- The amount and size of the broken bone fragments
- The injury to the cartilage surface surrounding the heel bone
- The injury to the surrounding soft tissues, such as muscles, tendons and skin
- The amount each broken fragments are out of place
To determine whether you have a broken heel, your physician will ask you for a complete medical history, have you describe your symptoms and how the injury occurred and conduct a physical examination. An X-ray or CT scan may be necessary to rule out other problems.
Treatment for a calcaneus fracture
Treatment depends on the cause and severity of your injury. Treatment focuses on restoring normal heel function and correcting any deformity.
Nonsurgical treatment is possible if the pieces of the broken heel have not been displaced. Treatment involves immobilization with a cast, splint or brace for six to eight weeks.
However, most often a broken heel requires surgery. Surgery type depends on the severity of the fracture. The more severe the injury, the more complex the surgery and recovery period.
How long does it take for a calcaneus fracture to heal?
It could take six to ten weeks before you can begin weight-bearing after initial injury or surgery. Recovery focuses on early motion, physical therapy and weight-bearing exercises.
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