One or more tiny breaks in the heel bone due to repetitive long-term stress is called a stress fracture. Calcaneus is the medical term for the heel and hence stress fracture of the heel is also called a Calcaneal stress fracture.
The heel provides support and stability to the foot and even a little dent in this structure significantly impacts the function of the foot. Though uncommon, the stress fracture of the heel brings the entire ability of the foot to nought. What makes it worse is that these stress fractures are ignored by people and are even missed in the x-rays accelerating the symptoms. So what exactly causes stress fracture of the heel, how do identify it before the symptoms worsen and what is the treatment?
Read on to know answers from the best ortho doctor in Mumbai Dr Chirag Patel:
What Causes Stress Fractures of the Heel?
The fracture to the heel bone usually happens due to a high-stress motor accident or a high-energy trauma event. The hairline fractures or tiny beaks in the heel bone due to stress are less common and mostly tend to occur in athletes whose sports involve repeated high stress on the heel. So heal fractures due to stress commonly happen in the following sports and events:
- Long-distance running
- Track & field sports
“Our body continuously replaces the old bone cells with the new ones. After a certain age, this process slows down, and the probability of stress fracture is high during this stage. In addition to the above long-term stress due to sports, training errors, improper running form, shoes and even nutritional deficiency may cause stress fractures”, says foot and ankle specialist in Mumbai, Dr Chirag Patel.
What Are the Signs of a Heel Fracture Due to Stress?
The pain due to stress fracture of the heel usually starts inside or outside of the heel bone. During the early stages of the stress fracture, it may only hurt during activities like running, weight-bearing or standing for a longer time. But over time as the fracture progresses, the heel may hurt even during the rest. Swelling of the heel, tenderness, limping or difficulty in walking are the most common symptoms of stress fracture of the heel.
So how are the symptoms of heel bone fracture treated?
Stress Fracture of the Heel or Calcaneal Fracture Treatment in Mumbai:
Heel bone fractures that are mild heal with lifestyle changes and non-surgical treatment options. Some of the common non-surgical treatment methods for heel bone fracture include:
- Reducing the load on the heel (walking, standing or training)
- Cushioned shoes & crutches
- Physical therapy to the heel
- Diet and nutrition changes
- Applying ice to stop and reduce swelling
Only when the above methods fail to arrest the stress fracture of the heel, surgical treatment is preferred by ortho doctors in Mumbai. That said, athletes are not the only individuals who are at risk of a stress fracture to the heel; it can also happen due to a combination of factors.
If you are in Mumbai and are experiencing heel pain that doesn’t seem to go away, we advise you to consult a foot and ankle specialist, and the best ortho doctor in Mumbai, Dr Chirag Patel.