The heel bone, or calcaneus, is one of the foot bones that is located within the back part of the foot. It connects to the talus bone on one end and the cuboid bone on the other end. The joint that is formed between the talus bone and the calcaneus is called the subtalar joint, which is a significant joint because it plays a crucial role in proper foot function. The main function of the bone is to aid in proper foot movement when a person is walking.
The heel bone has a hard exterior and a soft, spongy interior. Its structure is the primary reason why trauma to this area results in serious injuries. If the hard exterior of the bone is broken, the entire bone will crumble into pieces, making it very difficult to heal, and chronic pain and arthritis could result.
Injuries to this bone usually are a result of sports activities, driving or activities that result in the person falling on their foot. This will result in a trauma injury to the bone. A stress injury to the area also can occur. Injury is most commonly seen in people who play high-intensity sports resulting in chronic stress applied to the area.
Fractures of the heel bone produce symptoms such as swelling, pain and bruising of the foot. The ability to walk might be compromised, and significant pain in the heel might occur. Usually, when an injury to this area occurs, the skin is not ruptured. When rupture of the skin does occur, treatment almost always involves surgery.
Injuries to this bone are quite serious, so the type of treatment that is to be provided is carefully considered. The main reason for this is because patients are at a greater risk of suffering from complications when surgery is performed. Patients who are suffering from diabetes or who are chronic smokers have a higher risk of suffering from complications of surgery.
A cast can be worn as a treatment for a heel bone trauma. Whether a cast is worn or surgery is performed is at the discretion of the doctor. If the bone is still positioned where it should be in relation to the rest of the foot, then a cast can be worn. If not, then surgery is often performed. Complications before and after surgery are high, and seeking immediate medical attention after an injury to the heel bone is highly recommended.