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Heel Bone (Calcaneus) Fractures Diagnosis

Orthopedic Surgery

How is a heel bone fracture diagnosed?

It is important that you tell your provider the circumstances of your injury. For example, if you fell from a ladder, how far did you fall?

It is also important that you tell your provider if you have any other injuries or medical problems, such as diabetes, or if you take medications or smoke.

Physical Examination

After discussing your symptoms and medical history, your provider will perform a careful examination. They will:

  • Examine your foot and ankle to see if your skin was damaged or punctured from the injury.
  • Check your pulse at key points of the foot to be sure that there is a good blood supply to the foot and toes.
  • Check to see if you can move your toes, and can feel things on the bottom of your foot.
  • Determine whether you have injured any other areas of your body by examining the rest of your injured leg, your other leg, pelvis, and spine.

Tests

Imaging studies will help confirm the diagnosis of a calcaneus fracture:

X-rays. This test is the most common and widely available diagnostic imaging technique. X-rays create images of dense structures, such as bone. An x-ray can show if your calcaneus is broken and whether the bones are displaced.

Computed tomography (CT) scans. Because of the complex anatomy of the calcaneus, a CT scan is routinely ordered after a fracture has been diagnosed on x-ray. A CT scan will produce a more detailed, cross-sectional image of your foot and can provide your provider with valuable information about the severity of your fracture. This information will help your provider recommend the best plan for treatment.