Calcaneal Stress Fracture [Causes, Symptoms & Best Home Treatment!]
Do you have a calcaneal stress fracture? Make 100% sure you are not walking on it and making it worse! A calcaneus squeeze test can help you diagnose it!
Table of Contents
Heel Pain Causes: Picture & Photo Gallery
- One of the top causes of heel pain is plantar fasciitis. This is damage to a ligament that holds your heel to your toes.
- Another root cause of heel pain has flat feet.
- There are also photos of heel spurs that can occur to the bottom of your heel (plantar fascia insertion) and the back of your heel (Achilles tendon insertion).
- Baxter’s nerve entrapment can also happen at the bottom of the heel.
- An underlying cause is an overpronated flatfoot or an over a supinated high arched foot.
- A plantar fibroma is a thick nodule that can occur within your plantar fascia ligament and contribute to plantar fasciitis.
- This can lead to the formation of a heel stress fracture( AKA calcaneus stress fracture.)
Please click on the gallery for a guided tour through heel pain conditions!
Calcaneal Stress Fracture Overview:
- The most common cause for a calaneal or heel bone stress fracture is trauma to your heel bone.
- Such as falling from high heights or a lot of force to your heel.
- In some cases constant repetitive use or over use can also cause a stress fracture.
- Stress fractures occur as a cycle or repetitive loading and unloading of the bone and are not the result of a weak bone or any other systemic illness like osteoporosis!
- Read about the calcaneal squeeze test below to find out if this is you.
- You don’t want your calcaneal stress fracture getting much worse over time.
- People who develop stress fractures can be described as weekend warriors or people who start to take on too much of an activity too quickly after not preparing themselves properly.
- This would include people who went from not walking to walking many miles per day, or someone who just started training very hard for a marathon after not really running before.
- If the patient has diabetes or decreased nerve function this raises the possibility of a neuropathic fracture which is a fracture due to a lack of feeling and sensation in that area of the heel.
With calcaneal stress fractures often comes pain. Pain that comes with fractures may not be felt right away but can take days to start feeling symptoms. In most calcaneal stress fracture cases causes the inability to walk or bear weight. Bruising and swelling may also occur around your heal and ankle.
Calcaneal stress fracture squeeze test:
- this can be an effective way to make sure you don’t have plantar fasciitis or just Achilles tendinitis.
- By squeezing the calcaneus from side to side, it is more likely to feel pain if you have calcaneal stress fracture.
- It is more likely to be plantar fasciitis if your pain is at the bottom of the foot.
- It is more likely to be Achilles tendinitis if your pain is in the back of the heel or along the Achilles tendon.
Calcaneal Stress Fracture Treatment:
With any heel pain it is recommend to seek your podiatrist to confirm the diagnosis and ensure a the fastest recovery time. Depending on the fracture podiatrist will recommend different treatment. Immobilizing your foot such as a cast or boot keeps the bone in place aiding in the healing process. It is very important to stay of your foot as much as possible to keep unwanted pressure to your calcaneal bone. This in combination of RICE (rest, ice, compression and elevation helps reduce swelling and helps heal. Images such as X rays will be need to determine if surgery is required.
- Rest (stay off foot)
- compression (bandage)
Calcaneal Stress Fracture Recovery Time:
Normally this should take 6 weeks to get to 50%, 3 months to get to 75% and 6 months to get to around 90%
- It is important to know with any injury there may be complications.
- After healing a calcaneal stress fracture arthritis or other deformity may occur.
- This will cause unwanted pain and can only be corrected with surgery or foot wear that helps with arch support, such as orthotics or a brace.
- Consult your podiatrist to help prevent any unwanted issues and further complications.
- Physical therapy is often needed to help build strength back after recovering from surgery.
Other Treatments That May Help:
- Consider our comprehensive plantar fasciitis heel pain guide.
- If you are having Achilles tendon pain as well, there is a good chance you might be having plantar fasciitis pain to the bottom of your foot.
Best Heel Pain Products:
- There are usually two phases to treating plantar fasciitis pain.
- The two phases of treatment include controlling the acute inflammation, and correcting the biomechanics which led to the problem in the first place.
- If the tendons and ligaments are inflamed, they are almost frozen in place and cannot function properly.
- Once the inflammation is decreased, we need to correct the bio-mechanical causes to ensure that they can never become over worked and inflamed again!
- This doesn’t matter whether it’s plantar fasciitis, plantar fibroma, sore bottom of foot, or even Achilles tendon pain. Treatment is all roughly very similar.
Plantar Fasciitis or Achilles Tendonitis Inflammation:
Massage & Ice Products:
- Ice is the an excellent option that can be safe for almost everyone.
- There is some debate whether icing is worth doing, but for chronic pain this can help limit the need for medications and keep your options open.
- This works great for your arch, less for the ball of the foot.
- The more muscle and ligament tissue there is, the better ice will work there.
Menthol Based Gels:
- Biofreeze is one of our favorites.
- These gels have been studied to work 2x as long as ice.
- This works great for the ball of the foot.
- This can be very effective for bottom of the heel and Achilles tendon sore regions.
- These can work great for loosening your muscles.
- This allows less tightness and pressure on the ball of your foot.
- This is very effective for the arch, the gastrocnemius or calf muscle and for the hamstring and thigh muscles.
- This also works very well for the gluteus muscles if you are having butt cheek or hip pain.
Remove the Plantar Fascia or Achilles Tendon Stress:
- The key is to prevent future pain.
- This means keeping you active while keeping stress off of your plantar fascia tendon. This will prevent future re-injury and development of plantar fasciitis.
- If you can get rid of the pain and swelling, this will let you start walking normally.
- If you can walk normally, the vast majority of your pain should gradually start to go away.
- The best way to ensure that your plantar fascia, foot and ankle ligaments are not overworked is to support them.
- The best way to support them is to use great orthotics and great shoes.
- Some people may also need to rely on supportive ankle braces and other supportive modalities.
The Best Heel Pain & Plantar Fasciitis Shoes:
- Getting a great supportive pair of shoes will make sure that there is pressure removed from the heel and plantar fascia region.
- This is especially important if you have plantar fasciitis, heel spur pain or Achilles tendonitis.
- Consider shoes combined with a good supportive orthotic for best pain relief!
- The following link will show you what our favorites are.
Best Heel Pain & Plantar Fasciitis Orthotics:
- These are our recommended orthotics for plantar fasciitis.
- Custom orthotics can work very well, but they should not be a first line of treatment.
- There are different types for different shoes.
- Women’s shoes usually need a less bulky orthotic, but allow for less correction.
- A full length orthotic requires a running shoe, boot or comfortable walking/dress shoe.
- We recommend doing everything you can to get a good supportive shoe that can fit a full length orthotic.
- This is the best way to maximize your orthotics for great results.
Best Full Length Orthotics:
- These will only work in wider shoes or a good supportive running shoe.
- This will not work in sandals, flats or most women’s dress shoes.
Best Dress Shoe Orthotics:
- These are a great choice for dress orthotics.
Best 3/4 Length Orthotics:
- These are great options for women’s dress shoes and thinner shoes.
- These are not the most supportive pair of orthotics.
Get A Great Dynamic Stretch:
- It is possible to stretch on your own, but these products can also really help!
- This will take pressure off of the ball of your foot.
- We personally prefer this method of stretching.
Get A Great Static Stretch:
- These devices are great for stretching while you are resting.
- This will also help take pressure off of the ball of your foot.
- This works great for plantar fasciitis.
- It can be used while watching TV or at night time.
Best Heel Compression Brace:
- A good compression brace can stabilize your foot from turning outward.
- This prevents your foot from pronated.
- Pronated foot will turn your foot outward in your foot will rub on the outside of the shoe.
- For many of her patients this has solved their pain and is very comfortable to wear inside your shoe.
- This solves both pain and outward pronation for a relatively low cost.
Best Heel Stability Brace:
- Stability brace goes little bit further than the compression brace to stop your foot from turning out.
- This takes pressure off of your heel and plantar fascia.
- At the same time this is a little bit bulkier and does not affect every shoe.
- We find people are little bit happier trying the compression brace before the stability brace.
- If you think you might have a broken heel, a calcaneal stress fracture or something of similar severity, these products might help!
- Always remember to see a foot and ankle specialist like a podiatrist if you are having plantar fasciitis or more severe pain!
Plantar Fascia Tear, Broken Heel Bone, Achilles Tendon Tear:
- If you have a traumatic injury such as a torn plantar fascia ligament, calcaneus stress fracture, heel fracture or insertional Achilles tendon injury: consider protecting your foot!
- The best way to do this is of course to see your podiatrist and get evaluated with an x-ray, ultrasound and potentially even an MRI or CT scan.
- If you are unable to do so it may benefit you to be in a cast, fractured boot, or even keep the weight off of it with a rolling knee scooter or other protective devices.
- We as podiatrists frequently take patients off work for very long period of time when they suffer a traumatic injury, unfortunately there is no other way around us in labor jobs.
- If you have a sit down job there are ways to get people back to work quicker, but this can be very difficult otherwise.
Heel Injury Boot Treatment:
- There are pros and cons to using a boot to treat your heel injury. If you are immobilized too long the cons are that you will gradually become stiff and overworked to your other leg. The Pros are that you injured heel will hopefully have a chance to gradually heal!
- Our favorite fracture boots and their supplies:
Offloading and Scooter treatment:
- These are favorite knee scooters and walking devices: