What is a Heel Fracture?
The calcaneus or heel bone is a large bone found at the rear of the foot. A heel fracture is a break in the heel bone due to trauma or various disease conditions.
What are the Types of Heel Fractures?
The types of calcaneus fractures depend on the severity and may include:
- Stable fractures
- Displaced fractures
- Open fractures
- Closed fractures
- Comminuted fractures
What are the Causes of Heel Fractures?
A fracture of the heel bone occurs most commonly due to a traumatic event such as falling from a height, twisting injuries, motor vehicle accidents and ankle sprains.
What are the Symptoms of Heel Fractures?
The commonly seen signs and symptoms of heel fractures include pain, swelling, bruising, and inability to walk or bear weight on the foot.
How are Heel Fractures diagnosed?
The evaluation of a heel fracture is done with imaging studies such as X-rays and CT scans. Based on the severity of the fracture, your doctor decides on the treatment.
What is the Treatment for Heel Fractures?
Fracture of the heel is considered serious and can cause problems if not treated correctly. They are treated based on the type of fracture and the extent of soft tissue damage. Non-surgical treatment is advised for non-displaced fractures and may include:
- Rest, ice, compression, and elevation (R.I.C.E.): This is the most commonly suggested treatment option. Staying off (resting) the injured foot can heal the fracture. Covering the affected area with ice packs over a towel reduces swelling and pain. Compression stockings or elastic bandages, and positioning your feet above the heart level reduce swelling.
- Immobilization: Casting the injured foot prevents the fractured bone from moving. Walking with the help of crutches is advisable to avoid bearing your body weight on it until complete healing.
Surgical treatment is recommended for severe traumatic fractures and may include:
- Open reduction and internal fixation (ORIF): This surgery involves putting the bone fragments back together in normal alignment and holding them in position with metal plates and screws.
- Percutaneous screw fixation: This is the preferred treatment in cases where the fractured bone pieces are large. The bone can either be pushed or pulled to set into place without making a large incision. Metal screws are then inserted and fixed through small incisions to hold these bone pieces together.
What is the Rehabilitation Process?
Irrespective of the treatment procedure, physical therapy and regular simple exercises are recommended to help restore function.