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Calcaneus Fracture


This is a painful, debilitating break of the heel bone. Often accompanied by injury to a foot joint called the subtalar, the combined injury can make walking on uneven or slanted surfaces more difficult. Learn the symptoms and interventions for this disabling injury.

Causes & Triggers

  • High-impact, high-force events, such as:
    • Car or other accident
    • Motor vehicle collision
    • Fall
  • •Twisting of the foot

Signs & Symptoms

  • Bruising
  • Changes in gait
  • Deformity of heel
  • Instability or wobbliness
  • Pain
  • Swelling
  • Uncomfortable or unable to walk or bear weight

Tips & Treatment

  • There is more than one type of calcaneus fracture:
    • Closed: bone does not penetrate the skin
    • Comminuted: bone is shattered into at least three pieces
    • Displaced: bone ends are misaligned
    • Open (or compound): bone penetrates the skin
    • Stable: bone ends are aligned yet broken
  • Because of the primary cause—crash, collision or fall—most calcaneus fractures are severe, requiring 3-4 months recovery for minor injuries; 12-24 months for severe injuries.
  • Non-surgical treatment may include a non weight-bearing cast worn for 6-8 weeks or more.
  • Surgical repair may be necessary if bones are displaced, but only after swelling subsides.
  • If the bone fragments during the injury, metal plates and screws may be needed to repair it.
  • Even with proper diagnosis and treatment, there may be some degree of permanent injury or function loss.

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