In case of calcaneal fracture, the treatment will include surgical or non-surgical method of restoring the dimensions of the heel. If the fractured portion is still in place and not forcefully pushed out by the accident, it can be treated non-surgically. If the shift has occurred, surgical treatment is necessary, wherein, a metal plate along with screws is used to help reposition the bone pieces. In some cases, a bone graft is used to assist in the healing of fractures. Once the surgery is complete and the incision is dressed, a splint may be used to support the affected area until it gets healed.
Recovery after Calcaneus Fracture
Regardless of surgical or non-surgical treatment of calcaneus fracture, rehabilitation of the patient is quite similar in both the cases. Moreover, the rehabilitation depends largely on the severity of the injury and the type of fracture occurred. For good calcaneus fracture recovery, one must take considerable care of the heel bone and not place any weight on it for approximately 10 weeks after surgery. Irrespective of whether the injured foot is put in a cast or splint, one must not put any weight on the foot until the bone is completely healed, which takes six to eight weeks at the least, or sometimes longer.
In some cases, the doctor may insist on early motion of the foot and ankle as soon as the pain has subsided. The next step is walking with the help of a cane and special boot. For those who are given a removable splint, after a while physical therapy can be initiated. These specific exercises strengthen the foot muscles and improve the motion in the foot and ankle. Initially, the whole process may be very painful with zero progress, however, the exercises are extremely important for one to resume day-to-day activities as soon as possible. One may also have to use elevation, immobilization, and ice application to reduce postoperative swelling. Complete recovery may take up to a year.
As it takes a great amount of force to break the heel bone, walking after a calcaneus fracture surgery may never be the same as before. There is also the potential for short and long-term complications. Immediate complications include swelling, or healing problems. If the fracture is more severe or involves joints, long-term consequences include arthritis and chronic pain. Some people need to wear a heel pad, lift, or cup as well as special shoes with extra depth in the toe compartment.
How Does a Calcaneal Fracture Take Place?
Calcaneus fractures (heel bone fractures) do not occur casually, and are usually the outcome of a high impact accident. The heel bone has the likeness of a hard-boiled egg, as it has a thin, hard outer shell, and a soft, spongy bone inside. It takes a lot of stress for the calcaneus to fracture, and consequently, if the protective shell breaks, the bone is likely to collapse and become fragmented. This kind of injury can take place as a result of falling from a ladder, or due to an automobile accident where the heel gets crushed against the floorboard. Alternately, they can also be the outcome of an ankle sprain. In rare cases, such fracture can also take place due to overuse of the heel bone, such as in athletes.
Symptoms of a Calcaneus Fracture
- Severe pain
- Swelling of the foot
- Difficulty in walking
- Heel deformity