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Todd Borenstein MD

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Calcaneus Fracture

What is a calcaneus fracture?

The calcaneus (heel bone) forms the heel of the foot. It sits under the talus bone and forms the subtalar joint which is responsible for the inward and outward movement of the foot. A fracture of the calcaneus bone can affect the subtalar joint and the normal inward and outward motion of that joint. This can lead to heel deformity, stiffness and arthritis.

What causes a calcaneus fracture?

A calcaneus fracture is often due to trauma such as an automobile accident of a fall from a height.

What are the symptoms of a calcaneus fracture?

Patients with a calcaneus fracture typically have sudden heel pain after trauma accompanied by swelling and bruising and difficulty or inability to walk on the foot. It may also be accompanied by back or knee pain.

How is a calcaneus fracture diagnosed?

X-rays are ordered to look for the presence of a calcaneus fracture. A CT scan may also be ordered to assess the subtalar joint and calcaneus fracture in finer detail.

How is a calcaneus fracture treated?


Conservative treatment may be appropriate for a calcaneus fracture depending on the severity of the injury. This involves rest, ice and elevation in order to reduce swelling and pain. Typically, a period of non-weight bearing in a splint or cast, followed by progressive weight bearing in a walking boot will be recommended.

Operative treatment

Operative treatment is recommended for displaced fractures and most fractures involving the subtalar joint. The fracture is fixed with a combination of plates and screws under general anesthesia. This is followed by a period of non-weight bearing in a splint and cast or walking boot.