A fracture is the result of a force stronger than the bone causes the bone to break. There are different types of heel fractures, but the result is usually the same: intense pain, swelling, bruising, and a long recovery period. If you or a loved one has fractured your heel bone please don’t wait a moment longer than necessary to start getting treatment.
Stress Fractures of the Heel
Of all the fractures that can affect the heel the stress fracture is probably the least painful. A stress fracture occurs within the bone and is the result of overuse, usually among physically active people. Sometimes it can be hard to tell if you have a stress fracture or another condition because in the early stages you can still usually put pressure on your foot with minimal pain. Some things to look out for include tenderness, swelling in the forefoot and ankle, and pain that is worse while engaging in physical activity, especially running. If you are experiencing any of this don’t try and “push through the pain”. This will only make matters worse in the long run.
There are many other types of fractures that can affect the heel bone and they range in severity. For now we will talk about closed and open fractures. A closed fracture occurs within the body. It’s usually the result of a trip or fall. The ankle becomes twisted and the force causes the bone to break, typically in just one place.
An open fracture is more severe. This is what most people think of when they think of a broken bone. With an open fracture the bone has not only broken (sometimes in more than one place), but it has also protruded out of the skin. This poses numerous other threats, including the possibility of allowing infection into the body. An open fracture needs immediate first aid and treatment to clean the wound and prevent infection.
Treatment for Heel Fractures
Treatment for a heel fracture really depends on the type of fracture you have. With a stress fracture you might just need to rest your feet for a period of time and keep your foot immobilized either with a cast or a special type of shoe. Recovery usually takes about six to eight weeks, but it can vary depending on how well you take care of your heel. With more severe fractures treatment can be more involved. If your bone hasn’t been displaced you can usually get by with nonsurgical treatment. This is similar to treating a stress fracture and includes immobilizing the foot with a cast and staying off the foot until it is completely healed.
Open fractures or fractures where the bone has been displaced usually require surgery to correct. The healing time will take longer. After any bone healing process you will be required to undergo physical therapy to rebuild your strength.
We Can Help
If you have more questions about heel fractures please call Dr. Mitchell Wachtel at (978) 794-8406 to schedule an appointment with us in one of our three Massachusetts offices.