Ask Dr. Anderson: Could I Have a Heel Fracture?
Dr. Michael Anderson, a foot and ankle specialist, explains why prompt medical evaluation is critical. Diagnosing heel pain can be a complex matter requiring specialized expertise, according to Dr. Anderson.
How does a heel fracture occur?
The majority of heel bone fractures occur as a result of high-energy trauma, such as a car accident, and are referred to as intra-articular joint fractures because they can affect the entire heel joint. Sports-related fractures are usually less severe than high-impact trauma fractures.
Heel fracture symptoms
Severe calcaneus fractures hurt and cause a lot of pain and swelling, to the point where the skin around the fracture blisters. If you break your heel bone, you’ll know something’s wrong and should go to the emergency room for treatment.
Will this injury heal by itself without treatment?
An orthopedic specialist can help you determine appropriate treatment and monitor your recovery. While not everyone requires surgery, you do need an expert to correctly diagnose your injury.
Several types of heel fractures
Stress fractures and avulsion fractures of the Achilles tendon are two types of heel fractures. Avulsion fractures occur when a corner of the heel bone breaks off due to an ankle sprain. Recovery time varies depending on which bone in the joint is affected; some take longer to heal than others.
Prompt medical evaluation improves fracture outcomes
You can break your calcaneus in a variety of ways, and Dr. Anderson’s goal is to help you recover as quickly as possible. You may need to walk in a boot to help the bone heal, or you may need surgery and be required to stay off your heel for several months.
Summit Orthopedics offers personalized foot and ankle expertise
Summit Orthopedics has convenient locations throughout the Minneapolis-St. Paul metro area, including state-of-the-art centers for comprehensive orthopedic care in Eagan, MN, and Plymouth, MN. Our foot and ankle specialists can help with conservative treatment and proven, evidence-based surgical options.
Can you walk on a fractured heel?
Because your Achilles tendon acts through the calcaneus to support your body weight, minor calcaneus fractures may not be painful enough to prevent you from walking, but you may limp.
How do you know if you fractured your heel?
Symptoms and Signs
- Swelling in the heel area.
- Bruising of the heel and ankle.
- Sudden pain in the heel and inability to bear weight on that foot.
How do you know if you have a stress fracture in your heel?
Symptoms and Telltale Signs of Stress Fractures Pain that worsens with time on your feet. Intense pain that is localized to one spot on the heel or foot and is tender to the touch. Redness and swelling at the fracture site.
How do I know if my heel is bruised or fractured?
The pain at the bottom of your heel bone, also known as the calcaneus, is the most common symptom of a bruised heel, and it will likely hurt when you walk or press on it. If the bone is also bruised, the pain may be sharp, and you may notice a red or purple bruise on the outside of your heel.
How is a fractured heel treated?
Doctors consult an orthopedist to determine the best treatment for heel fractures, which may include splinting, rest, ice, compression, and elevation (PRICE), followed by a cast, or surgery to put the broken bone pieces back in place and keep them in place.
Can a broken heel heal itself?
u201cA heel fracture will heal on its own,u201d Dr. Anderson admits, u201cbut the concern is whether these fractures will heal in the best position to minimize a potentially poor outcome. At worst, a heel fracture will heal improperly.u201d
How long does it take for a fractured heel to heal?
General Treatment The broken bone will heal in 3-4 months, whether surgery is required or not; even if surgery is not required, movement and weight bearing will be restricted for a period of time. Calcaneus fractures that benefit from surgery frequently involve breaks in the subtalar joint (the joint just below your ankle joint).
How do I know if I have plantar fasciitis or stress fracture?
A stress fracture is more likely if there is swelling around the painful area. If stretching temporarily relieves the pain, it could be the result of plantar fasciitis. If squeezing the heel bone (between the thumb and fingers on the inside and outside of the heel) causes pain, it could be a sign of a stress fracture.
What is the fastest way to heal a stress fracture?
How to Heal a Stress Fracture Quickly
- To control symptoms, apply ice and take pain medications.
- Protect the stress fracture site with a cast or splint.
- Start partial weight bearing only when pain is gone.
- Increase your activity to avoid recurrence of the fracture.
What happens if a fracture is left untreated?
When a bone fracture is left untreated, it can either result in a nonunion or a delayed union. In the former case, the bone does not heal at all, meaning it will remain broken, causing swelling, tenderness, and pain to worsen over time.
What happens if a stress fracture is left untreated?
Stress fractures often worsen if left untreated, eventually becoming incapacitating, and a bone with an untreated stress fracture may break completely, necessitating more extensive treatment.
Do stress fractures hurt more at night?
What are the signs and symptoms of a stress fracture? Pain is usually felt over the injured area and develops over a few weeks. It is typically worse when putting weight on the injured area and better when resting. As the stress fracture worsens, the pain may become present at rest and at night.
What to do if your heel hurts when you walk?
Self-care is important.
- Avoid activities that stress your heels, such as running, standing for long periods of time, or walking on hard surfaces.
- Ice. Apply an ice pack or a bag of frozen peas to your heel for 15 to 20 minutes three times a day.
- New shoes.
- Foot supports.
- Over-the-counter pain medications.
What does it mean when your heel feels bruised?
A bruised heel occurs when blood vessels in the muscles and soft tissue of the heel are crushed by repetitive movements or overuse injuries, such as jogging in ill-fitting shoes. In most cases, elevation, ice, and rest can relieve the pain.
What happens if Heel spurs are left untreated?
Heel spurs, on the other hand, can cause significant, even debilitating pain in many people. If left untreated, heel spurs can severely limit your activity, with many patients unable to bear any weight on the affected foot.