What are Calcaneus Fractures?
A calcaneus fracture occurs when there is a break to the heel bone. Although somewhat uncommon, they can occur as the result of a high-impact event—such as a car accident or a fall—or a twisting injury to the ankle. As a result, the heel typically becomes deformed, and surgery is required in order to reconstruct the normal shape of the heel and provide mobility.
Types and Severity
The severity of the injury depends upon how many fractures are involved, the size of any broken bone fragments, to what extent these bone pieces have been displaced, any associated injuries to the cartilage surfaces in the subtalar joint, and any injuries to surrounding tissues, such as tendons and muscles. Open fractures—where bone fragments protrude from the skin—involve more damage to surrounding muscles and tendons, as well as a higher risk of infection.
A car accident during which the heel is crushed against the floorboard drives the calcaneus up against the talus. In general, the greater the impact, the greater the calcaneus fracture, where high impact, head-on collisions can result in the bone being completely shattered.
When the calcaneus is damaged, hindfoot movement and overall balance are inhibited, and there can be chronic pain, difficulty walking/placing pressure on the heel, bruising, swelling, loss of motion/movement, heel deformity, and arthritis, depending upon whether there are complications.
Your doctor should discuss your medical history with you and the circumstances surrounding the injury. He or she can then determine whether you have a calcaneus fracture by examining the foot, ankle, and other areas of your body to determine where the injuries are located, whether you can move your toes, and whether there is blood supply to your foot and toes. Tests such as X-rays and CT scans can help determine whether the calcaneus is fractured.
Treatment of a calcaneus fracture seeks to restore the normal shape and anatomy of the heel. Typically, this involves surgery, but there are some nonsurgical treatments that can be explored such as the use of a case or splint for six to eight weeks if the broken bones have not been displaced.
If surgery is required, your doctor will either wait to perform the procedure until the swelling has gone down or, in the instance of an open or avulsion fracture, act right away in order to prevent infection and risk of damage to surrounding tissues. Two of the procedures commonly used for calcaneus fractures include percutaneous screw fixation and open reduction and internal fixation. Rehabilitation after surgery involves moving the affected area, exercises to improve the range of motion and strength in your foot and ankle, and the use of supportive mechanisms such as crutches once you begin walking again.
Personal Injury Attorneys
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