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Calcaneal Fracture


What is a calcaneal fracture?

A calcaneal fracture is a break in your calcaneus (heel bone).

What causes a calcaneal fracture?

  • Direct blow to your heel
  • Fall
  • Chronic disease, such as rheumatoid arthritis or osteogenesis imperfecta (bones do not develop normally)

What are the signs and symptoms of a calcaneal fracture?

  • Pain and inflammation of your heel
  • Weakness or numbness of your heel
  • Trouble moving or putting weight on your heel

How is a calcaneal fracture diagnosed?

  • X-rays: You may need more than 1 x-ray to see different parts of your heel.
  • CT scan: This test is also called a CAT scan. An x-ray machine uses a computer to take pictures of your heel. The pictures may show your fracture or other tissue damage. You may be given a dye before the pictures are taken to help healthcare providers see the pictures better. Tell the healthcare provider if you have ever had an allergic reaction to contrast dye.
  • MRI: This scan uses powerful magnets and a computer to take pictures of your heel. An MRI may show tissue or ligament damage. You may be given dye to help the pictures show up better. Tell the healthcare provider if you have ever had an allergic reaction to contrast dye. Do not enter the MRI room with anything metal. Metal can cause serious injury. Tell the healthcare provider if you have any metal in or on your body.
  • Bone scan: This is a test to look at your heel. The bone scan may show a fracture or infection. You will get a radioactive liquid, called a tracer, through a vein in your arm. The tracer collects in your bones. Pictures will then be taken to look for problems.

How is a calcaneal fracture treated?

  • Support devices: Support devices include casts, splints, and removable boots. These devices prevent heel movement and help your fracture heal. A support device may be the only treatment you need. You may also need crutches to help you move around.
  • Medicine:
    • Pain medicine: You may be given a prescription medicine to decrease pain. Do not wait until the pain is severe before you take this medicine.
    • Antibiotics: You may need antibiotics if you have an open wound. This medicine helps fight or prevent an infection caused by bacteria.
    • Td vaccine is a booster shot used to help prevent tetanus and diphtheria. The Td booster may be given to adolescents and adults every 10 years or for certain wounds and injuries.
  • Surgery: You may need surgery if your heel bone broke into many pieces or your ligaments were damaged. Ligaments are strong tissues that connect bone. You may need wires, pins, metal plates, or screws to hold the pieces in place while you heal.

When should I contact my healthcare provider?

  • You have a fever.
  • You have new blood stains or a bad smell coming from under your cast.
  • You have increased pain or swelling, even after treatment.
  • You have questions or concerns about your condition or care.

When should I seek immediate care or call 911?

  • Blood soaks through your bandage.
  • You have severe pain.
  • Your cast breaks or gets damaged.
  • Your toes are numb, swollen, cold, or pale.
  • Your leg feels warm, tender, and painful. It may look swollen and red.
  • You suddenly feel lightheaded and short of breath.
  • You have chest pain when you take a deep breath or cough. You may cough up blood.

Care Agreement

You have the right to help plan your care. Learn about your health condition and how it may be treated. Discuss treatment options with your healthcare providers to decide what care you want to receive. You always have the right to refuse treatment. The above information is an educational aid only. It is not intended as medical advice for individual conditions or treatments. Talk to your doctor, nurse or pharmacist before following any medical regimen to see if it is safe and effective for you.

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Further information

Always consult your healthcare provider to ensure the information displayed on this page applies to your personal circumstances.