Broken heel bone (calcaneal fracture)
A calcaneal fracture is a troubling condition that will render patients immobile for some time until the fracture heals. Fractures occur due to an acute injury such as a fall from a height. They may also occur over time (chronically), where repetitive stress leads to the bone becoming bruised and cracking (stress response and fracture). Acute fractures require specialist medical review. Chiropractic and physiotherapy treatments will be essential to reduce pain and restore function following the injury.
The most common cause of this injury is the result of falling or jumping from a height and landing on the feet. This height doesn’t need to be extremely high. Large forces are required to cause an acute fracture of our heel bone unless the bones are already weak, such as those in osteoporosis. In some cases, large enough forces are involved in car and bike accidents and sports events such as water skiing. Stress response and a stress fracture in the heels can occur in long-distance running, though this is not common.
If you are involved in an accident or trauma that causes a broken heel, you will know about it. Large forces are needed. Symptoms of an acute calcaneal fracture will include pain, rapid swelling and bruising. Depending on the severity of the injury, people will also experience difficulty walking and bearing weight on the affected heel(s). Both heels can be affected by injuries such as falls. Where stress fracture is involved, symptoms are slower to develop and can be vaguer. Seeking care from an experienced chiropractor or physiotherapist is essential.
If you suspect a broken bone it is recommended you seek medical attention immediately. The treatment of a broken heel depends on its location, severity and functional consequences. Treatment may be conservative or surgical. For more information that is specific to your injury, please see your sports chiropractor or sports physiotherapist.