Heel FracturesWhat to do about a broken heel
Given enough pressure, even the toughest bones will break. Your heel bones are designed to handle heavy pressure and hard impacts. However, even they can reach a breaking point that damages them. Heel fractures are not only painful, they can result in serious, long-term injuries that affect your feet and overall mobility. Taking care of a broken heel right away is extremely important.
The Dangers of Breaking Your Heel
Your heel bone sits directly below your ankle and supports a significant amount of weight and pressure when you stand and walk. It helps you balance and its connection to your ankle bone, the talus, allows for side-to-side motion in your foot. Breaking this bone means you can’t support your weight and you may be subject to long-term, painful complications.
Of all the foot fractures, a break in the heel bone is quite uncommon. It is normally the result of a sudden and possibly traumatic accident. Falling from a great height and car crashes are common causes. Occasionally, heels might suffer stress fractures from repetitive trauma to your foot.
When the break first happens, you feel immediate pain and aren’t able to put weight on that foot. Your heel will swell and probably bruise. Crushing your heel bone can actually shorten or widen the back of your foot, too, potentially deforming it. If the break affects the subtalar joint—which allows your foot to rotate side-to-side at the ankle—the damage may contribute to arthritis and restrict your movement later.
Taking Care of a Broken Heel
Depending on how serious the damage is, noninvasive methods may be enough to help your foot heal. Dr. Thomas D. Truong will carefully examine your heel and use diagnostic images like X-rays to determine how serious the damage is. From there our team will be able to see what your foot needs to heal.
This will most definitely involve immobilizing your whole foot to allow the bone tissue to repair itself. This method is most effective if none of the bone fragments were displaced. You’ll be in a cast for at least 6-8 weeks, but possibly longer. During this time, you’ll have to avoid all weight on that foot. Once your heel fractures are healed, you’ll need to recondition your foot to handle the pressure of standing and walking.
Unfortunately, if fragments of your broken heel are displaced, your foot is deformed, there are multiple breaks, or soft tissue is damaged as well, a simple cast may not be enough to repair everything. You might require surgery to fix the problem. Surgery can help reconstruct your heel and use screws, plates, or other methods to hold the damaged pieces together. Our team will discuss your needs and any risks with you before the procedure, then help you decide on the best option for your recovery. Again, once your bone has healed, you’ll have to rehabilitate your foot to handle pressure and stress again.
Ultimately, like any other bone, your heel fracture needs involved care to allow your foot to recover. Without getting help, you risk complications that can contribute to long-lasting pain and possibly arthritis or deformity-related mobility issues.
Don’t take any fracture for granted. Let our experts at The Kansas Foot Center help you heal your heels. If you’re concerned you might have a fracture, or you have questions, contact us today. You can reach us for a consultation through our website or by calling our Wichita office at (866) 222-5177.