Have you ever jumped or fallen from a step that was just a bit higher than you expected? You can feel the sting and ache reverberate painfully through your feet. Usually after a few minutes, however, the discomfort lessens, and you’re able to go on your way. Hard impacts like that can be dangerous. Strike the ground sharply enough and you could cause a break your main support bones—like a calcaneal fracture.
The calcaneus is your heel bone. It sits directly under the ankle joint and supports a significant amount of your body weight and the shock of your steps. When it sustains an injury, especially one as serious as a fracture, your gait and your mobility can be affected. Like any broken bone, calcaneal fractures occur because of some trauma. A sudden, sharp force from a fall or a crush injury cracks the heel, weakening it and limiting its ability to manage your body weight. Often times the trauma forcibly compresses the heel against the ankle bone above it, which can cause complicated and significant damage.
When it happens, you feel the pain immediately. Often the back of the foot swells and bruises shortly after the injury takes place. Depending on the extent of the damage, you may still be able to walk after a calcaneal fracture. Small breaks are painful, but not severe enough to keep you off your feet. More serious fractures, however, may make it impossible for you to put weight or strain on the back of the foot. In either case, the break does need to be addressed and cared for right away to prevent long-term weakness or complications in the ankle and back of the foot.
Restoring Your Heels to Health
If you’ve injured your heel, you will need to have it thoroughly examined so the experts at Country Foot Care are able to treat the problem accurately. Diagnostic images will show the doctors where in the calcaneus the break occurred and how severe the problem is. Once they have an accurate picture of the inside of your foot, they can help you move forward with treatment.
The success of conservative treatment largely depends on how seriously the heel bone is fractured. If the calcaneus is intact and no bones are displaced, you most likely will not need surgery. Your foot will have to be in a non-weight bearing cast for several weeks while the bone recovers. Once your heel is sufficiently repaired, the doctors will help you recondition your foot to handle the stress of walking again.
If the bones are displaced or crushed, however, you will most likely need surgery to reconstruct the back of the foot. The healing time will be longer, but without the extensive repair, your foot may have chronic pain and instability. After the procedure, you will need to keep your foot in a non-weight bearing cast to allow the bones to heal. After that, you will most likely need physical therapy to slowly work your foot back to its original strength.
Calcaneal fractures are painful and can severely limit your mobility. Not treating the problem when it arises, however, could have serious side effects and permanent complications, from arthritis to instability and weakness. If you’ve injured your heel and it is painful—or impossible—to walk, don’t wait and hope it will get better on its own with rest. To make an appointment to have your heel examined and treated, you can fill out an online MAKE AN APPOINTMENT button at the top of this page or you can call our offices directly. Our podiatrists and our entire staff look forward to serving you.