What is Calcaneus Fracture?
The calcaneus is also known as the heel bone, which forms the entire foundation of the rear part of the foot. The calcaneus bone forms the most important joint of our leg with the talus and cuboid bones. Because of having a thin and hard shell from the outer par with a soft, spongy inside the bone, the calcaneus is also compared with a hard-boiled egg. When the outer shell breaks for any reason, the bone begins to crumble and fracture. Thus, all the suffering starts. Calcaneus can contribute to several injuries and long-term consequences. So, it is crucial to take the necessary steps at the initial stage of calcaneus fracture.
How Do Calcaneal Fractures Occur?
Calcaneus fractures are rarely seen. It usually takes place due to the fractures of the tarsal bones, and only 2% of all adults may fall victim to this. However, most of the fracture occurs due to some traumatic incidents like falling from a height. This can include your automobile accidents, falling from the ladders, or anything which can crush the heel against the floorboard. Sometimes calcaneal can occurs due to some other injuries like an ankle sprain. Even if the overuse or repetitive use of the heel bone or its stresses can lead you to calcaneus fracture. If we highlight the main reasons for calcaneus fracture, then it will be:
- Fall from a height
- Automobile accidents or vehicle collisions
- Ankle sprain or twisting injuries
The severity of the fracture is different based on the type of accident. Let’s make this clear with an example. If the fracture is caused by a simple twist of the ankle, it may cause a single crack. This can be cured after some initial medications and exercises. On the other hand, if you have passed through the force of a car collision, it can cause a comminuted fracture.
Fractures can occur in different ways. Think when you land on your feet from a fall. In this case, the entire pressure of our body weight is directed downward. And due to this, the talus bone drives directly into the calcaneus bone, and at the end, you may face calcaneus fracture. In a motor vehicle crash, the fracture can happen in the same way. Based on this rule, the damage largely depends on the impact—the greater the impact, the more the damage.
Calcaneus Fracture Recovery Exercises
The initial treatment of calcaneus fracture is to use a perfect shoe for a broken foot. These shoes are specially designed to give the required support and prevent weight-bearing. And remember, no matters how appropriate the shoe you use, only perform a gentle range of motion. Also, make sure to follow all the advice of your physicians and medical professionals. And after these, you can try some exercises to boost your recovery process. Let’s have a look at them!
Range of Motion for the Ankles
This exercise usually has two parts. First, you will have to pump your ankle and forth multiple times. The purpose of this exercise is to increase the mobility of your ankle. At this stage, try to avoid all those movements that are painful and make sure to follow the restricted movements of your medical professionals.
Along with the pumping method, try to draw the alphabet by using your big toe. It will be better if you keep the motion within your ankle. Don’t take any help of your leg and the hip.
This exercise will require a hand towel. So, find one and lay it on the floor. It will be better if you choose a sleek non-carpeted floor. Okay, now that you have laid the towel, use your toe to grab the towel off the ground. Once you grab the towel, try to extend your feet as much as possible before you start to grab the towel again. Make sure to repeat the process ten times at least.
In order to perform this exercise, you will have to stand against the wall or a counter. Now, place one foot back behind, bending the front knee. Continue bending the knee until you feel a gentle stretch on the lower portion of your leg. Make sure to maintain your posture at a proper upright position.
Keep in mind that your back knee should remain straight during the entire time. Hold this position for 30 seconds at least, and then repeat this process three times per side.
The balancing exercise can help you a lot. For this, you will have to stand near a countertop position using one of your feet (keep the other bent). In this case, you can use your hands as the countertop. It will help you to acquire the correct balance. Make sure to select a hard surface because the softer will make the exercise more difficult.
Raise up your heel on your toes and lift your heel area off the ground. At this stage, the upright posture should be maintained properly. Performing this exercise up to 25 repetitions is not a big deal with normal strength. Slowly move to plantar fascia while working the ankle. If you start to feel any pain, discontinue the exercise and take some rest.
Try to perform ten repetitions at least once a time every day. When the pain level will decrease, and you regain your strength, try to perform this exercise on one foot only. Once again, don’t cross the restrictions given by your doctor.
Learning to Walk Again After Broken Heel
When you first recover from your heel surgery, it will be really hard for you to keep the balance and walk like normal again. This is usually determined based on the recovery stage when your bone will be ready to take the weight of your body. Doctors usually suggest performing the weight-bearing activities few weeks after the surgery. Some may take more time to recover, and the weight-bearing activities may extend to 3 months or more. However, you will have to go through the following stages before you start to walk.
This can be the first recommendation from your doctor to regain your walking ability again. They may encourage you to move the affected area gently. This early motion should be performed after the surgery as soon as the wound heals.
Some specific exercises can help you to regain the motion in your foot and ankle area. These exercises can also help you to strengthen your leg muscles. But keep in mind, most of these exercises are painful at the beginning. As a result, you may have to pass through several difficulties at the initial stage. But soon, you will resume your normal activities by continuing these exercises.
When you first start to walk, the doctor may suggest you use a crutches, cane, or walker. In fact, it may become a crucial piece of equipment for you as you will lose balance. Sometimes using some special shoes or boots for stress fracture can also help you a lot. So, before it gets confusing, it is always recommended to follow your doctor’s suggestion and start walking based on their recommendation. Don’t hurry. If you tend to put weight on your leg pieces too soon, it can be harmful to you. Due to this, the bone pieces may move from the correct place, and you may require another surgery. But if the bone is healed properly, continue to walk and bear weight.
Can Running After Calcaneus Fracture?
If you have just recovered from your surgery, you might be wondering when you will be able to hit the road again, right? In this section, we are going to discuss that. From the above discussion, it is clear that you may need to wear a cast or additional support at the initial stage after recovery. These are essential to prevent immobilization and boost up the healing process. After an ankle fracture, your main obstacle will be a weakened ankle, where the muscles around the joint will get tight. So, it will be really difficult to walk and get back to running again. However, the running stage depends on several factors. Like:
- The severity of the break
- The surgery
- Physical therapy
- The effort that you put into your recovery
- And some luck
Based on these factors, and if everything is okay, you can start to run again within three to four months. The bones and ankle will become normal again during this time. The strength of your feet should be back on track during this time. Thus, you can run at your fullest pace as the pain will reduce by this time.
But sometimes it can be different. The recovery process of the individuals is different along with their injury. Some people may heal faster than the above-mentioned period, where some people may take more time. If there is a limited strength, loss of ROM, it may take more time for the individual to heal.
There are some peoples who can never run after the calcaneus fracture. It doesn’t matter how much effort they apply; they may not be able to regain their mobility and strength due to fracture. You must follow what your physical therapist suggests. They will make sure if running is safe for you or not by setting realistic goals and expectations after the fracture.
Calcaneus Fracture Recovery Stories
Okay, the above discussion might have made you sad. But don’t be; there are thousands of recovery stories of calcaneus fracture. Many have turned around, and many were able to run again.
One of the victims said that he found himself hanging by his leg when he slipped. His impact was so bad that he never imagined he could walk again. According to his explanation, the impact of the accident felt like an elephant sat on his chest. When he regained his consciousness, how badly this injury is going to change his life. He tried to crawl back to his house but noticed something has changed and was seriously wrong. After that, he was transferred to the nearest hospital. Luckily, there weren’t any major bone injuries. After the x-ray, doctors found two breakages on the lower back, and that’s what has caused him immense pain. But as soon as the pain was under control, he was discharged from the hospital and sent back to my home for three months of being restricted to a bed.
During this time, he met much orthopedics and showed the X-rays to them. Most of them said:
- He may never walk again
- He may never be painless
- He may have to battle with the depression
It might become true, but he didn’t give up. He followed his doctor’s suggestions, medications, and exercises. And thanks god, after spending three months at the recovery stage, he was able to heal his fracture. He is now back to normal and leading a normal life again.
Return to Work After Calcaneal Fracture
No matters how badly you have fractured your calcaneal bone, you will definitely need to return to your work. As we already know, depending on the fracture, location, and damage, there are different types of treatments. But along with the treatment, you will also need some scientific care to recover from the fracture. Let’s have a look at them
Foods Should Be Eaten
A proper diet will help you to recover from your calcaneus stage and boost up the entire process of healing. And as soon as you heal, you can return back to your work again. You should eat
The foods that are high in calcium like cabbage, fish, sesame seeds, spinach, almonds, etc.
The foods that are high in magnesium like meat, soybean, peanut, bananas, etc.
The foods that are high in zinc like cereals, eggs, seafood, oysters, etc.
Besides, you will also have to avoid some food habits for the sake of your fast recovery. This includes:
- Alcohol, drugs
- Fried and greasy foods
If you can develop this food habit, you will notice a significant boost in your healing process. As a result, you will be able to join your work again. But after a calcaneal split, you will have to pay proper attention to your works. You may not be able to get back to your normal movement and feel imbalance at the initial stage. In fact, it is also ideal to avoid weight lifting tasks and reduce all those tasks that can put pressure on your joints. As always, make sure to follow your doctor’s and physiologist’s suggestions.
Walking Boot for a Stress Fracture
Well, this is the most important factor, and obviously, a perfect shoe can help you get relief from the pain. You may start to walk easily after the recovery, but with proper footwear, you will be able to walk comfortably on your heel. There are a bunch of shoes and boots for stress fracture; you just need to select the best one from the variety. Besides, proper footwear will save your feet from further fracture. So, even if you completely recover from your fracture, it will be better if you invest in a proper shoe.
However, for settling up the calcaneus pain and the risk factors, it is better to wear these boots for six weeks.
Life after a calcaneus fracture can be difficult if you don’t follow the recommendations and suggestions of your doctor. Actually, there is no universal treatment and one-size-fits-all recommendation. Not every method will work on every person. Studies have shown that those who had surgery after the fracture healed fast while those who it was completely different on some individuals. Research is still going on to find the best treatment for calcaneus fractures, and hopefully, we will get one in the near future.