Fractures Foot & Ankle

(Ankle)The talus (TAY-lus) is a small bone that sits between the heel bone (calcaneus) and the two bones of the lower leg (tibia and fibula). It has an odd humped shape, somewhat like a turtle. The bones of the lower leg "ride" on top and around the sides to form the ankle joint. Where the talus meets the bones of the foot, it forms the subtalar joint, which is important for walking on uneven ground. The talus is an important connector between the foot and the leg and body, helping to transfer weight and pressure forces across the ankle joint.

(Foot)It's not easy to break your heel bone (calcaneus). Because it takes a lot of force, such as that sustained in a motor vehicle accident or a fall from a height, you may also incur other injuries as well, particularly to the back.

Signs and symptoms

(Foot) The pain may be centered on the outer side of the ankle, just below the lower leg bone (fibula). Or, it may be focused in the heel pad, particularly when you try to put weight on the foot. Your foot may become swollen and stiff. See your doctor right away, because if the bone heals improperly, severe problems may result later.

(Ankle) A fracture that breaks through the skin has an increased risk of infection. Talar fractures that result from snowboarding injuries may be mistaken for ankle sprains because of the tenderness on the outer side of the ankle and severe bruising.

Diagnosing a heel fracture

Your doctor will try to pinpoint the area of pain and tenderness. You will probably need to get several x-rays of the heel and ankle area. A computed tomography (CT) scan may also be helpful. If you are also experiencing back pain, your doctor will recommend x-rays of the lower back as well to see if there is a fracture there.

The nerves that bring sensation and movement to the foot pass close to the heel bone. Your doctor will check their functioning to ensure that there is no damage. He or she will also make sure that an adaquate blood supply flowing to the toes and that pressure is not building in the muscles of the foot (compartment syndrome).