The heel bone (Calcaneus) is a large bone that forms the basic foundation of the rear part of the foot. It connects the talus and cuboid bones. At the same time, its connection with the talus bone forms the subtalar joint, which is important for normal foot functions. The heel bone is often compared to a hard-boiled egg due to its thin, hard covering on the outside and its soft, spongy bone on the inside. Once the outer shell is broken, the bone tends to collapse and become fragmented.
Fractures of the heel bone occur following an acute injury to the foot. For this reason, calcaneal fractures are severe injuries. Furthermore, if the fracture involves the joints, there is the potential for long-term consequences such as arthritis and chronic pain.
Most calcaneal fractures are stress-related, or the result of a traumatic event. Trauma-related heel bone fractures are the result of a strong impact. The most common causes are falling from a high height (such as a ladder) and being involved in an automobile accident, where in most cases the heel is crushed against the car’s floorboard. On the other hand, stress-related calcaneal fractures occur over time. These are mostly due to overuse or repetitive pressure exerted on the heel bone.
Calcaneal fractures produce different signs and symptoms depending on whether they are traumatic or stress in nature. Looking for the following signs and symptoms can help you and the medical team identify what group you belong to.
Some signs of trauma include sudden pain in the heel, an inability to bear weight on that foot, swelling in the heel area, and bruising of the heel and ankle. On the other hand, stress-related symptoms include swelling and generalized pain in the heel area and usually develop over several days to weeks.
To diagnose and evaluate a calcaneal fracture, the foot and ankle surgeon will ask how the injury occurred, examine the affected foot and ankle, and order x-rays. In addition, advanced imaging tests are commonly required.
Don’t wait until the condition of your foot worsens. Contact us immediately for further guidance and treatment.