A heel stress fracture or calcaneal stress fracture is a thin crack in the calcaneus bone or heel bone and develops due to overuse. They are particularly common in military personnel due to the repetitive heel to ground impacts related to marching, they are also common in long distance runners and ballet dancers for the same reason. Patients usually describe a history of insidious onset of heel pain aggravated by weight bearing activites with symptoms feeling similar to that of a badly bruised heel.
Usually a calcaneal stress fracture can be diagnosed by your physiotherapist who can usually provoke your symptom by squeezing both sides of your heel, in some cases MRI made be needed to confirm the diagnoses. In the majority of cases rest from aggravating activities for a period of 6-8 weeks and the use of crutches or a cushioned orthotic in the shoe results in a full recovery, but in more extreme cases casting may be required to ensure the bone is sufficiently offloaded. Your physiotherapist will provide you with a program of active rest so that you can maintain your fitness levels whilst being unable weight bear fully through the heel. Active rest may include pain free cycling and swimming workouts and strength exercises.