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A fracture of the calcaneus, or heel bone, can be a painful and disabling injury. This type of fracture commonly occurs during a high-energy event—such as a car crash or a fall from a ladder—when the heel is crushed under the weight of the body. When this occurs, the heel can widen, shorten and become deformed.
Since these fractures mostly result from falling or motor vehicle injuries, prevention is limited. Stress fractures—injuries that could be caused from twisting motion—can be prevented by strength training and stretching. Certain types of footwear, such as high heels or even running barefoot, can attribute to these fractures, too.
Patients with calcaneus fractures usually experience:
With some minor calcaneus fractures, the pain may not be enough to prevent you from walking—but you may limp. This is because your Achilles tendon acts through the calcaneus to support your body weight. If, however, your calcaneus is deformed by the injury, your muscle and tendon cannot generate enough power to support your weight. Your foot and ankle will feel unstable, and you will walk differently.
After discussing your symptoms and medical history, your doctor will perform a careful examination. He or she will examine your foot and ankle to see if your skin was damaged or punctured from the injury, and then check your pulse at key points of the foot to be sure that there is a good blood supply to the foot and toes. Your doctor will also check to see if you can move your toes, and can feel things on the bottom of your foot. Our foot and ankle experts use advanced diagnostic testing during examinations to determine the extent of the injury.
Your doctor will consider several factors in planning your treatment, including the cause of your injury, your overall health, the severity of your injury and the extent of soft tissue damage. To restore function and the heel’s original dimensions, Dr. Rappaport may recommend: