A calcaneus stress fracture is a stress fracture of the heel bone. This injury usually results from overuse, especially in runners. It often presents as lingering or worsening heel pain. Usually the stress fracture resolves with rest and avoiding any repetitive impact on the bone until pain disappears.

These injuries often affect runners, especially women in their fifties. A runner with a calcaneus stress fracture will usually complain of pain that initially starts after a certain amount of running but gets better with rest. As the problem gets worse, she will have pain earlier in the run, and the pain will take longer to go away after the run. As it progresses to a stress reaction, or later a stress fracture, the pain will not go away with rest, and often the pain is present during activities of daily living, such as walking.

Woman with heel pain from a calcaneus stress fracture

A physician who examines a runner with a calcaneus stress fracture can usually reproduce pain along the heel. Unlike the pain with plantar fasciitis, which is typically on the sole of the foot at the heel, the pain with a calcaneus stress fracture is more spread out all along the heel. Typically, the physician can squeeze the sides of the heel together and recreate the pain.

The physician will usually order x-rays, although they are often negative, even with a stress fracture. The physician might order a bone scan or MRI.

Patients can recover from a calcaneus stress fracture without surgery. Rest from running, wearing a walking boot or protective shoe, or even putting the patient on crutches are usually enough to get the fracture to heal.

Also read:
Foot pain: Common causes in runners and joggers
Running injury: 5 of the most common injuries runners suffer

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