The calcaneus is the bone in the back of the foot, commonly referred to as the heel bone and this is where the heel stress fracture occurs. This bone helps support the foot and is important in normal walking motions. The joint on top of the calcaneus is responsible for allowing the foot to rotate inwards and outwards. A heel stress fracture is also referred to as a calcaneus fracture.
Calcaneus fractures cause significant swelling and pain of the back of the foot. Symptoms of a calcaneus fracture include:
- Inability to walk
- Swelling of the foot
- Bruising of the foot
- Severe heel pain
If you suspect that you have a Calcaneus fracture you will need to arrange for an immediate X-Ray. Most calcaneus fractures are closed injuries, meaning the skin is intact. When the skin around the calcaneus fracture is broken, this may represent an open, also called a compound, fracture. An open fracture of the calcaneus is a surgical emergency and you should go to A&E immediately.
All patients with a calcaneus fracture should also be examined for other high-energy injuries. Studies have shown a large number of patients who have a calcaneus fracture will also have fractures of the lumbar spine (10 to 15 %). Other injures commonly occur in patients who sustain a calcaneus fracture, including injuries to the head, neck, and other extremities.
The calcaneus can sustain a stress fracture, an injury common for soldiers who do a lot of marching or often seen in athletes, such as long-distance runners. Stress fractures are caused by overuse and they are a different type of injury from a traumatic fracture.
Heel Stress fractures are almost always the result of high-energy injuries. They usually occur as a result of a fall from a height, such as falling from a ladder. Other causes of a calcaneus fracture include automobile accidents and sports injuries.