Fractures of the heel

Fractures of the heel are breaks in the heel bone. Due to their location, fractures of the heel can be very painful and debilitating. They usually occur as a result of high-impact collisions such as a fall from a great height.


The main cause of a heel fracture is injury. The different causes of fractures of the heel include:

  • Falling from a great height – The type of injury from this occurrence most likely will result in a more serious break, such as a compound or closed fracture.
  • Twisting the ankle — This can result in the heel bone simply being cracked.
  • Motor vehicle collision — The bone can possibly be shattered into three or more pieces as a result of this situation.


The most common symptoms of fractures of the heel include:

  • Pain – This can be felt during rest as well as activity.
  • Bruising – The skin can change color around the injured heel.
  • Swelling – The area around the heel will swell as a result of the fracture.
  • Heel deformity – For more severe cases, the heel is basically deformed as a result of the fracture, especially in cases where the bone is shattered and the surrounding tissues are damaged.
  • Walking difficulty – Inability to put pressure on the heel of the foot.


The severity of a fracture depends on the severity and type of injury that caused the break. Types of fractures of the heel include:

  • Stable fracture – In this type of fracture the broken bones remain aligned, which usually means the bones will stay together during the healing process.
  • Displaced fracture – In this type of fracture, the broken ends of the bones are not aligned. Surgery is usually required to align the bones.
  • Open fracture – Also known as a compound fracture, this break causes the bones to shift and break out through the skin. The surrounding muscle, ligaments and tendons often are damaged during this injury. Surgery is always required for this particular fracture of the heel.
  • Comminuted fracture – The broken bone shatters into three or more pieces.


After your physician gathers your complete medical history you’ll undergo a thorough physical exam of your injured foot. The physician will ask about the event which led to the pain in your foot, and will also inquire about your symptoms. Diagnostic imaging procedures such as X-rays and CT scans will be done to diagnose the extent of the injury. Once your physician has formed a complete diagnosis, treatment options will be discussed.


Treatments for fractures of the heel depend upon the severity of the condition and range from wearing a cast to surgical fracture repair.

The multidisciplinary team of foot and ankle experts at Northwell Health Orthopaedic Institute treats fractures of the heel as well as a broad range of foot and ankle conditions that can occur at any stage of life.

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