Fracturing the bone in the heel (the calcaneus) is not an easy thing to do. To sustain a heel fracture, a great deal of force is required in an accident, fall, or similar high-impact incident. Given their severity, accidents that cause heel fracture often cause additional injuries, such as back injuries, other fractures, and damage to other bodily systems.
Symptoms of Heel Fracture may include:
- Pain at the outside of the ankle, below the lower leg bone, or on the heel pad
- Inability to put weight on the injured heel.
Diagnosing of heel fracture
To determine the location and severity of your injury, your doctor will perform a physical examination to pinpoint what structures in the leg and other parts of the body have been injured. He or she will often perform diagnostic imaging tests as CT scan, x-ray, and MRI on the heel and ankle such to determine the nature of the fracture and other injuries.
The orthopedic professional will also evaluate the leg, ankle, heel and foot to check for proper nerve functioning and adequate blood flow.
Treatment of heel fracture
Non-surgical treatment of a heel fracture may be possible if the fracture is closed and the bones have not been pushed out of place. In such cases the following treatment may be recommended:
- Elevate and compress the heel to keep the bones from shifting
- Use ice packs to prevent and reduce pain and swelling
- Use a splint for 1 to 3 weeks as recommended by a doctor
- Stay off the injured leg for 6 to 8 weeks or as advised
- Use doctor recommended rehabilitation exercises.
When the heel bone pieces have shifted out of alignment, surgical treatment will often be the best treatment option. During surgery, an orthopedic surgeon will often use pins, screws or metal plates to hold the fracture heel bone in place to allow proper healing. For crush injuries, a bone graft may be necessary to mend the fractured bone.
From this point, the non-surgical methods described above will often be recommended to help rehabilitate the heel following surgery. The time spent off the injured leg may be as long as 10 weeks. Furthermore, there is a risk that the leg will never completely return to its pre-injury state. Many patients who suffer heel fracture experience persistent stiffness or arthritis in the bone. Heel pads and special shoes can help to mitigate the discomfort associated with these long-term effects of heel fracture.