Treatment of calcaneal fractures is dictated by the type of fracture and extent of the injury. The foot and ankle surgeon will discuss with the patient the best treatment—whether surgical or nonsurgical—for the fracture.
For some fractures, nonsurgical treatments may be used. These include:
Rehabilitation?of Calcaneal Fractures
- Rest, ice, compression and elevation (RICE). Rest (staying off the injured foot) is needed to allow the fracture to heal. Ice reduces swelling and pain; apply a bag of ice covered with a thin towel to the affected area. Compression (wrapping the foot in an elastic bandage or wearing a compression stocking) and elevation (keeping the foot even with or slightly above the heart level) also reduce the swelling.
- Immobilization. Sometimes the foot is placed in a cast or cast boot to keep the fractured bone from moving. Crutches may be needed to avoid weightbearing. For traumatic fractures, treatment often involves surgery to reconstruct the joint, or in severe cases, to fuse the joint. The surgeon will choose the best surgical approach for the patient.?
Whether the treatment for a calcaneal fracture has been surgical or nonsurgical, physical therapy often plays a key role in regaining strength and restoring function.
Complications of Calcaneal Fractures
Calcaneal fractures can be serious injuries that may produce lifelong problems. Arthritis, stiffness and pain in the joint frequently develop. Sometimes the fractured bone fails to heal in the proper position. Other possible long-term consequences ofcalcaneal fractures are decreased ankle motion and walking with a limp due to collapse of the heel bone and loss of length in the leg. Patients often require additional surgery and/or long-term or permanent use of a brace or an orthotic device (arch support) to help manage these complications.