Broken Heel Bone

Basic Information for a Broken Heel Bone

A broken heel bone can be a particularly bothersome condition.  A broken heal bone occurs when you break your calcaneus bone at the back of your foot.  Although it is possible to injure this bone over time, the more likely cause of a broken heel bone is a fall from a high ladder or an extreme trauma to the area during a high impact trauma—as sometimes occurs during sports such as football.



Symptoms of a Broken Heel Bone

A broken calcaneus bone often presents with extreme foot pain that will likely make it difficult for the sufferer to walk normally.  Although the pain usually centers around the back of the foot where the calcaneus bone is located, it can also be more widespread and difficult to pin point.  Typically, swelling will occur as well along with some signs of discoloration (bruising) along the site of the break.

In general, however, a broken heel bone does not involve breaks to skin unless the calcaneus has been broken at multiple points.  When this occurs, the sufferer should be hurried to a medical facility as it can result in multiple complications.

Treatment for a Broken Heel Bone

If you believe that you may have injured or broken your calcaneus bone, you should avoid placing weight on your affected foot and keep it elevated and iced down until you get a chance to see a doctor.  You should try to get into seeing a doctor as soon as possible since such an injury, if left untreated, can have a serious long-term affects.

Typically, the doctor will offer one of two courses of action.  If it is clean break that has not dislodged the bone, your doctor will usually suggest placing a brace on the foot in order to allow the bone to heal itself in a secure environment.

Some breaks, however, will require surgery.  Often these breaks to the calcaneus involve more than one fracture point.

Healing Time

Getting back to normal after a broken heel bone can be a long and frustrating process.  On average, it takes about three months of carefully reducing movement in order to get your heel back to fully working condition.  In order to heal successfully, the sufferer must keep the foot elevated whenever possible, reduce standing time, and avoid irritating the area.

Sufferers should also try to avoid swelling in the area.  When swelling does occur, sufferers need to properly ice the heel so that other problems do no occur.  The treating physician is likely either to wrap the foot or to prescribe a brace during this healing period.  Patients recover quickest when they give their calcaneus the full amount of time necessary to heal.  When patients rush back onto their feet they are likely to simply re-injure their heels and exacerbate their difficulties, thus extending their recovery times.


Complications during Healing

A series of short term and long-term complications can occur during the healing of the calcaneus. In the short-term physicians recommend that patients avoid smoking and keep the site of the break from swelling.  Smoking is counter-indicated when you are trying to heal after a calcaneus surgery because studies show that patients who smoke are at far greater chance of suffering infections in the area of the infection site.

Long term, patients who have surgery on the heel are at increased risk of developing arthritis in the heel.  Patients must generally look to avoid putting too much stress on the injured foot and try to purchase footwear that does not increase their discomfort.  Even with these precautions, many patients never quite feel as if their heels are fully healed.