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Conditions & Treatments

Calcaneus (Heel Bone) Fractures

Heel bone fractures are rare, accounting for only 1-2% of all fractures, but about 10% of these fractures are missed in the emergency room. Diagnosis and treatment require an orthopedic consultation.  This type of fracture is very painful and can cause long-term disability including post-traumatic arthritis, even with the best efforts of the doctor.

What causes a heel bone fracture?

A heel bone fracture is caused by significant force including a fall from a height, a car crash or a sports injury that twists the ankle. Often because of the great force needed to break the heel bone, other injuries to the knees and spine are common. Severe heel bone fractures can extend into the ankle joint and fracture the cartilage that provides smooth movements.

What are the symptoms of a heel bone fracture?

  • Pain
  • Tenderness in the heel
  • Swelling and bruising in the foot and ankle
  • Heel deformity
  • The inability to bear weight on the foot
  • Compartment syndrome. Compartment syndrome is where the swelling compresses the blood vessels reducing or blocking blood flow which can kill or severely damage the tissues and must be treated immediately. 10% of patients with a heel fracture suffer with compartment syndrome.

How is a heel bone fracture diagnosed?

Your OANC orthopedic surgeon will discuss your symptoms and the circumstances around your injury, conduct an examination, and order x-rays. The examination will include checking the skin, checking to assure sufficient blood supply, and whether the patient can move their toes and has sensation in the bottom of the foot. X-rays will show the fracture and a CT scan will reveal a more detailed picture of the injury.  Since the injury is caused by severe trauma, they will also evaluate the knees and spine for other injuries.

Contact Orthopedic Associates of Northern California to schedule a consultation or to have one of our orthopedic surgeons meet you at the hospital.

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