A Calcaneal fracture is also known as a broken heel. It is usually caused by falling or jumping from a height. If you suspect an acute fracture then seek medical attention immediately.
Medically reviewed by Dr Chaminda Goonetilleke, 20th Jan. 2022
- There will usually be a sudden pain in the heel at the time of injury with rapid swelling and bruising developing shortly after.
- With an acute calcaneal fracture, the athlete will have difficulty putting weight on the foot.
- A calcaneal stress fracture will have symptoms of heel pain, but it will come on gradually when the patient cannot pinpoint a specific event that caused the injury.
What is a Calcaneal fracture?
Also known as a broken heel bone, it is a fracture (break) of the Calcaneus bone. It is not common in sports but can result from road traffic accidents or landing badly from a height.
The calcaneus is the heel bone at the back of the foot. It is protected underneath by a fat pad. Other injuries affecting the heel bone are more common and gradual in onset. They include:
Calcaneal fracture treatment
- Seek medical attention immediately if you suspect a broken bone.
- Treatment usually involves immobilizing the foot in a plaster cast for 6 to 8 weeks while it heals.
- This will prevent the bone from bearing weight.
- Surgery is sometimes necessary, for example, if the fractured bone parts are out of position or displaced. Or if the fracture has broken the skin (known as an open fracture).
Calcaneal fracture surgery may involve attaching a metal plate to the bones to return them to their normal position. At the same time, it is important to ensure that the cartilage is replaced as close as possible to its original position.
Very occasionally, a fracture will not require a plate. A doctor can explain the best option for you.
After surgery, you may be required to rest your foot and avoid weight-bearing. The recovery period can last up to 3 months.