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Calcaneus Fracture: Symptoms, Treatment & Recovery

Instructor: Alyssa Campbell

Alyssa is an active RN and teaches Nursing and Leadership university courses. She also has a Doctorate in Nursing Practice and a Master's in Business Administration.

Calcaneus fractures occur in the heel bone at the bottom of the foot and are caused by blunt force to the heel or overuse. Read this lesson to learn more about the symptoms related to calcaneus fractures and what to expect during recovery.

Heel Bone Fracture

Jane, an avid runner, is currently in with the doctor to discuss her suspected calcaneal fracture, or fracture to the heel bone. In an attempt to beat her personal best record for time, Jane has been training excessively for hours on end. Her doctor explains that with the large amount of time on and constant use of her feet, it is no surprise that she finally sustained a fracture.

Symptoms of a Calcaneal Fracture

Barely able to finish her last marathon a few days ago, Jane comes to the office with the following symptoms:

  • Pain and achiness in the heel
  • Swelling and redness, or erythema, to the site of injury
  • Ecchymosis and bruising around the heel

Unsure of the extent and severity of her injury, she is sent for diagnostic imaging to confirm the presence of a fracture. An X-ray is completed showing no signs of injury. Aware of how thin and hair-like calcaneal stress fractures are, the doctor orders a CT scan, which comes back positive for fracture.

Treating the Fractured Heel Bone

Jane uses the R.I.C.E. protocol to treat her injury as she waits for further instruction from her provider.

Immediate Treatment

R.I.C.E. is a mnemonic aid used to guide the treatment of sports and soft tissue injury. It stands for:

  • Rest: Rest is critical in preventing further damage to the injury and provides time for the healing process.
  • Ice: Ice is used to reduce pain and swelling when applied to the site of injury.
  • Compression: Compression applied through the use of bandages or wraps further reduces swelling and provides support.
  • Elevation: Keeping the injury elevated promotes the return of fluid back to the core of the body.

This protocol is commonly used in first aid to treat soft tissue injury prior to obtaining individualized medical advice.

Surgical Considerations

All calcaneal fractures are treated with rest to allow the bone to heal. Rest includes staying off the injured heel and the use of crutches to avoid any weight-bearing to the fracture. Pain medication is prescribed to manage discomfort related to the injury.

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