What should I know about heel bone fractures?

There are some broken bones that pose a greater risk than others. One such break is the heel bone.

According to the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons, the heel bone or calcaneus usually suffers from crushing instead of breaking, which makes it a more difficult bone to heal.

A serious injury

When you break your heel bone, it is incredibly painful and will usually impact your ability to walk or put weight on that side of your body. It typically will take a lot of pressure and force to break this bone as it is rather strong. Most often, such injuries occur as a result of a high-energy impact, such as a fall from a ladder where you land on your feet.

Effects of a break

Since such an injury results in the crushing of the bone, it will change the general shape, which you will have to repair to gain back mobility. This will require surgery and the reconstruction of the bone using metal parts.

If you have an open fracture, you may experience more damage to the foot than just to the heel bone, resulting in a more serious injury. In addition, this type of break opens the door to more potential for infection and requires a much longer recovery.


While surgery is highly likely, your doctor may not rush you immediately to the operating room. Instead, he or she will probably have you rest and keep the foot elevated until the swelling recedes. Once the swelling is gone, you may have surgery to reconstruct the bone.

You will likely need to have physical therapy to regain use and movement in your foot. It will also help with the careful adjustment to bear weight on it again.

Such an injury will often cause long-term complications even with proper treatment. Lasting effects may include arthritis, loss of motion and chronic swelling.

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