n Heel Fractures - AOA Orthopedic Specialists

Fracture of the Heel Bone (Calcaneus Fracture)

What is a heel fracture and How Do I know If I have one?

A fracture of the heel bone, or calcaneus, is a severe and painful fracture. If the heel bone is fractured, the heel will be noticeably tender, bruised or swollen with the inability to bear weight on that foot. Calcaneus fractures are often severe and may result in long-term problems.

In up to 10% of cases, the patient can also sustain a fracture of the spine, hip, or the other calcaneus. Injuries to the calcaneus often damage the subtalar joint and cause the joint to become stiff. This makes it difficult to walk on uneven ground or slanted surfaces.

Causes of heel fractures

Heel fractures commonly result from great force or high-energy collision such as a car wreck or steep fall for example, and thus are often accompanied by other skeletal injures such as knee and spine injuries.

The calcaneus can be injured in a fall, twisting injury, or motor vehicle collision. A simple twisting injury may result in the calcaneus being cracked. The force of a head-on car collision may result in the bone being shattered (comminuted fracture). Different causes can result in similar fracture patterns. For example, when landing on your feet from a fall, your body’s weight is directed downward. It drives the talus bone down into the calcaneus. In a motor vehicle crash, the calcaneus is driven up against the talus. In both cases, the resulting fracture patterns are similar. The greater the impact, the more the calcaneus is damaged.

Symptoms of a calcaneus fracture

Sudden pain and sweeling of the heel

Brusing and tendor heel area

Inability to walk or bear weight on injured foot

In some minor calcaneus fractures, the pain is not enough to stop you from walking, but you may limp. This is because when you walk, the Achilles tendon acts through the calcaneus to support your body weight. If the calcaneus is deformed following an injury, the muscle and tendon cannot generate enough power to support your weight. Your foot and ankle will feel unstable, and you will walk differently.

The talus is an important bone of the ankle joint that is located between the calcaneus (heel bone) and the fibula and tibia in the lower leg. A talus fracture is a break in one of the bones that forms the ankle.

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