What is a Heel Bone Fracture?
The heel bone is a large bone that forms the foundation on the rear part of the foot. The heel bone is like a hard-boiled egg, because it has a thin, hard shell on the outside and softer, spongy bone on the inside. When the outer shell is broken, the bone can collapse and become fragmented. If the heel bone fracture involves the joints, there is the potential for long-term problems such as arthritis and chronic pain.
Most heel bone fractures are the result of a traumatic event, such as falling or being in an accident where the heel is crushed. Heel bone fractures can happen with other types of injuries, such as an ankle sprain. A smaller number of heel bone fractures are stress fractures caused by overuse. Fractures of heel bones may or may not involve surrounding joints. Fractures involving the joints are the most severe heel bone fractures, and include damage to the cartilage (the connective tissue between two bones).
Diagnosis of Heel Bone FractureTo diagnose and evaluate a heel bone fracture, the foot and ankle doctor will ask how the injury occurred, examine the injured foot and ankle, and order x-rays. Sometimes, advanced imaging tests are needed.
Heel bone fractures can be serious injuries that may produce lifelong problems. Arthritis, stiffness, and pain in the joint frequently happen. Other possible consequences of heel bone fractures are decreased ankle motion and walking with a limp.
Treatment of Heel Bone FractureTreatment for heel bone fractures depends on the extent of the injury. For some heel bone fractures, non-surgical treatments may be used. These include:
- Rest, ice, compression, and elevation (R.I.C.E.) of the foot.
- Sometimes the foot is placed in a cast or cast boot to keep the fractured bone from moving.
- Crutches may be needed to avoid weight bearing on the injured foot.
Surgical Treatment of Heel Bone FractureFor major fractures, treatment often involves surgery to reconstruct the joint, or in severe cases, to fuse the joint. The foot and ankle surgeon will choose the best surgery for the patient.
Whether the treatment for a heel bone fracture has been surgical or non-surgical, physical therapy often plays a role in restoring function of the foot. Remember, any type of foot or ankle pain is never normal. A foot and ankle doctor can examine your feet and give you the best course of action.
Please call (626) 447-2184 (Arcadia) or (818) 408-2800 (San Fernando) to speak to a foot and ankle specialist about your foot and/or ankle needs.