Fracture of the Heel Bone
Fractures of the heel bone are often severe, debilitating injuries that require extensive and complex treatment. When the heel bone breaks, it often shatters into multiple small pieces, and the bony relationships become extremely distorted. The heel often widens, and the height of the heel shortens significantly. The subtalar joint (the joint under the ankle joint) is also often severely stepped-off and irregular. This abnormality of the opposing surfaces of the joints can lead to severe pain, stiffness, and limitations. The ankle joint is usually unaffected (up and down movement) but side-to-side movement provided mainly by this joint can be dramatically reduced. In addition, the normal tendons, nerves, and other tissues surrounding the heel bone may be affected.
Calcaneus Fracture Surgery
Some types of calcaneus fractures can be treated non-surgically. Many fractures do however benefit from surgical intervention to reduce the risks of arthritis of the subtalar joint, realign the height and width of the heel, and to facilitate recovery. Many fracture patterns are treated with a large incision on the outside of the ankle to piece together the fractured pieces, which often are realigned similar to how a jigsaw puzzle is pieced together. Some fractures can also be treated utilizing a more minimally invasive technique with the joint surfaces evaluated through a small incision and the screws for securing the fractures placed through small poke holes in the skin. This technique minimizes the potential soft tissue healing complications associated with major large incisions. Dr. Vora specializes in the treatment of calcaneus fractures, when appropriate, with this minimally invasive technique.
Calcaneus Fracture Recovery
The fracture is usually stabilized with plates and screws, and immobilization is utilized until sufficient healing of the incision and soft tissues have occurred (usually 2 to 3 weeks). At this point, early mobilization of the joints, with particular attention to side-to-side movement of the subtalar joint, is begun to maximize motion. Weight bearing is usually restricted for the first 8 weeks, after which weight bearing is begun for an additional 4 to 6 weeks. At approximately 12 weeks, patients are able to return to regular shoe wear, although often times requiring a slightly larger shoe than before surgery.
Calcaneus Fracture Treatment in Chicagoland Area
Because of the complex nature of calcaneus fractures and the many potential complications that may occur after this severe injury, treatment with an orthopaedic specialist experienced in these types of treatments should be considered. Dr. Vora has designed a specific type of implant used to treat calcaneus fractures utilizing a percutaneous (minimally invasive approach) that is now in widespread use.
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