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    Old 07-04-2004, 11:26 AM   #1
    tismedt
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    Seeking advice on shattered heel

    Hello, I recently (10 days ago) fell 8 feet at work and shattered my right heel (calcanous) into 7 peices and pulverized some parts to bits. I was first seen by a general practitioner who refered me to a podiatrist for treatment. After doing some research I'm begginning to understand the seriousness of this injury. The specialist I'm seeing sees no advantage in having surgery at this point so I'm laying here in pain waiting for the healing process. I'm posting this to try and get some opinions from others who have suffered this injury. My main concern is wether or not I'll be able to return to work. I work as a structural steel Ironworker. You know the guys who build skyscrapers walking on the beams. With that said you can see how important it is for me to have good feet and legs. Aslo what kind of time frame am I looking at for the healing process. 6 months? a yr? more? Will I be able to walk normally again? Luckily I was working on a bridge pier at the time of the accident so I will be covered under the longshoreman/Harbor Workers workmans comp so I don't have to worry much about finances but if the healing takes more then a yr I will lose my medical coverage for my family and that is not a good thing. I'm getting pretty concerned about this injury so any information you can give me is much appreciated.

    Thanks

    Tis

     
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    Old 07-04-2004, 02:49 PM   #2
    StephanieVD
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    Re: Seeking advice on shattered heel

    I have never broken my calcaneus, but after doing way too much research on them from an osteotomy I had they are very complicated fractures. I personally would get a second opinion with an orthopedic surgeon who specializes in feet and ankles.. or even another well known podiatrist maybe (I personally have never seen a podiatrist). But with the kind of work you do I would get another opinion. Just my 2 cents obviously. But from what my surgeon has told me there are many complications that are involved in the type of fracture you are describing. The only reason why I read up on calcaneal fractures is because that is what my ortho specializes in and I was finding articles and his qualifications before I continued treatment. Find the best doc you can and go from there.. I don't know what workmans comp covers and all, but good luck. I hope you heal as fast as possible.. good luck.

     
    Old 07-05-2004, 02:23 PM   #3
    tismedt
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    Re: Seeking advice on shattered heel

    thanks for the reply. The specialist I'm seeing now is a OS/sports medicine Dr. Also I'm working with my health care provider to get a second opinion. Should be some time this week.
    Yesterday (July 4th) was pretty tough. We hold a annual 4th party at my house so I had to make appearances throughout the day to say hi to our guests. I went through a lot of pain doing that but I wanted to get out of bed for a while anyway. After about 30 mins I was back on my back with foot up it was a long day to say the least. Anyway I'll keep checking this thread for any other information others may offer here as well as updating my condition

    Thanks

    Tis

     
    Old 07-06-2004, 03:52 AM   #4
    tchair
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    Re: Seeking advice on shattered heel

    Hi tis,

    Eight years ago I spent the 4th getting my heel screwed back together. You'll find some fairly recent posts if you use the search feature on the top of the "foot problems" page and put in: fractured calcaneous. It's not unusual to skip the surgery. I think the two reasons they do go in are when the bones are way out of place and when the arch gets completely flattened and has to be rebuilt. So that puts you in the luckier group. My understanding (and experience) is that the most common long-term problem is with uneven surfaces. So as long as they're putting up those skyscrapers level....
    You are going to have to be very patient. When you start walking again it will hurt from the injury and from your down time. Based on my own experience, I always suggest that people get as rigorous an exercise plan as possible from their docs or physical therapist to keep the circulation and muscle tone up. I wish the healing process were even close to a broken leg. But you have to take into account that feet don't get the circulation that you leg does, they have a lot of moving parts and supporting your weight, walking, and balancing put a lot of demand on them. So recovery takes a long time. My guess would be closer to a year, but feel free to prove me wrong!

     
    Old 07-07-2004, 03:39 PM   #5
    mwagner
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    Re: Seeking advice on shattered heel

    Tis and all - I am still suffering from a right broken calcaneous on Sep 6, 2003. My doctor (orthopedic surgeon specializing in feet) implanted a plate and 10 screws. I had pain while walking, which increased over time. A month ago Doc removed hardware and said my injury also caused 30% carteledge loss on the subtaler joint. This means continued pain (orthoarthritis?) while walking. Doc ordered me an athletic ankle brace to stabilize the foot while active. It is uncomfortable, but helps a little. Also consider getting high-top lace up boots - that may work better.

    Doc recommends a sub taler joint fusion if pain persists for next few months.

    At least a year for recovery is a good estimate. You WILL recover - but get another opinion on the surgery!!!


    Also - does ANYONE know anything about glucosomine pills for aleiving arthritis pain (subtaler joint)??

    Thanks,

    Matt

     
    Old 07-07-2004, 04:07 PM   #6
    StephanieVD
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    Re: Seeking advice on shattered heel

    I have subtalar and ankle arthritis from the trauma of having the surgeries and fusion of both has been brought up. I am only 18... almost 19 so am obviously trying to find alternatives. I can't wear the ankle braces cuz of the nerve damage in my foot from my last surgery. I just have the problem that my os is the best in Tampa for the problem I have, I just don't trust him. I am to re-evaluate with my os in 2 months.. mainly to see how much of pain is post-op pain and how much is nerve, tendonitis and/or arthritis related. Oh they joys of this endeavor. Good luck everyone. Subtalar joint is supposed to be one of the most-satisfying fusions though from what my ortho said.. You only lose inversion and eversion, you can still move you foot up and down.. Just something he said.. who knows if its really true, lol.

     
    Old 07-09-2004, 06:41 AM   #7
    jfarrell
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    Re: Seeking advice on shattered heel

    Hi Tis:

    Right away I will say that Tchair has been a big help to me - look at the other posts and you'll hear my story and his input. I will echo the time frames mentioned - my fall was on March 7th - completely no weight for 8 weeks with pins that have been removed. My bone has healed satisfactorily, but my issue is that calcaneus was flattened and when it regrows to heal, tendons that previously passed by on the inside and ouside of the foot are now impinged.(pain) Uneven surfaces will probably be the long term issue - I think in time you will be fine because my experience, like t said, is that steel is awfully level! Kidding aside - get another opinion on surgery, keep your foot up and ICE!

    Also - if there will be no surgery, get into physical therapy as soon as practical - I started the day after my pins were removed - even before I could put any weight on the thing. I'm at the 4 month mark - walking with a limp, still using pain med's and therapy 2x a week. But I am making continued progress. I have an 8 year old and a 3 year old so inactivity is NOT and option - I am planning a full recovery - I have been an athelete all my life with many, many injuries and nothing has ever been so slow to recover. Hang in there, you'll do great.

    Joe

     
    Old 06-10-2005, 02:11 PM   #8
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    Re: Seeking advice on shattered heel

    I broke both of my heels almost a year ago, and while I am walking around some, I wouldn't consider myself "healed" by a long shot. It is a long, long recovery, usually with a lot of difficulties. I'm not sure anyone can predict your outcome so soon after your injury. A lot of it depends on how stubborn you are after the bones heal. Do ALL of the exercises they give you, and do them more often that they tell you, and you have a good chance of being "normal". My experience so far says that my feet probably will never feel like they used to, but I can make do with what I get back. Good luck.

     
    Old 06-10-2005, 02:14 PM   #9
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    Re: Seeking advice on shattered heel

    I take MSM with glucosamine Sulphate---at least 2000 units---4000 when I remember to take that much. It works. Use it.

     
    Old 07-31-2005, 02:28 PM   #10
    marciek
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    Smile Re: Seeking advice on shattered heel

    Hi All,
    I shattered my left calcaneous (about 12 pieces) on April 1st. Had splint and/or cast for 11 weeks. No surgery. Physical therapy is hard and painful. My heel itself isn't that bad but the ligaments and the sac over my ankle continue to swell and are locked in place. I just started to use a corrective heel insert because my heel/ankle are collapsed to the inside. Must have been the way I fell. I cannot say I am in terrible pain, but every step does hurt. My doctor says 1 yr until I feel normal...but probably never 100%...maybe 90. I have to admit I haven't been that good about doing my pt at home because it sometimes seems to just make it worse. From reading posts here it sounds like I should do them anyway even if it seems to make it worse....it will help in the long run?

    At this 4 month point I do feel I have come a long way, and I know I will be better every day. I am keeping very positive. Also I'm usually about 130 lbs and i've gained about 20 lbs from being imobile and eating for comfort. That doesn't help either. But, I am trying to lose it now. I think it will help. Good luck everyone who is going through this as well.

     
    Old 08-01-2005, 02:19 AM   #11
    tchair
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    Re: Seeking advice on shattered heel

    marciek,

    I was confused at first because your post was on an old thread. Might be a good idea to make a new one that starts off fresh.
    My swelling slowly subsided over months but didnít seem to reoccur. Others have said it did for them so maybe they can jump in and let you know how it turned out.
    As for doing PT, you don't get improvement unless you work for it. We've all found it painful to some degree as we got our feet to perform new functions. We often use the phrase: "Two steps forward, one step back." But only a doc can determine if the "worse" part that you are experiencing individually is normal or causing harm. If you're told that it is just the usual, better to do what you can and take breaks away from it than avoid it all together. Many of us were prescribed pain meds just to get through the process successfully.

    Sounds like you're also looking for motivation. Some 'heelies' (as we call ourselves these days) have activities that they love and refuse to give up. Others decided that they are going to do everything they can to get the best outcome. I, and a few others were simply PO'd about the "Never 100%" comment and decided to prove the docs wrong. So you can use hope, make it a challenge, even a bit of anger, whatever you can latch onto to help push yourself. You could cover this with your doc. Going to formal PT would make it structured and scheduled. You could get a friend or family member to be your coach, reminding you and encouraging you. The rule in that situation is you can't turn around and say "Quit bugging me."

     
    Old 08-01-2005, 04:46 AM   #12
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    Re: Seeking advice on shattered heel

    Thanks for the reply. I guess I was just wondering how many of you had experienced the same thing. I didn't think my ankle would be the worst of the problem once the cast came off. I see my Dr next week, and I will ask him about the PT causing pain and swelling and at what point does it indicate a possible problem. I began yesterday doing all the exercises I had been given to do, and I start with a new therapist today (my old one is out for surgery). I will try to reacess everything that is going on with her.

    One question....who has had the problem of the heel and ankle collapsing to one side or the other? Have the inserts helped? Thanks again. Marcie

     
    Old 08-01-2005, 08:12 PM   #13
    Dugsbunny
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    Re: Seeking advice on shattered heel

    Marcie,

    I crushed both heels the left ankle was collapsed to the outside but was repaired during surgery. Can't help with anything about inserts........Sorry
    Douglas

     
    Old 08-03-2005, 04:18 AM   #14
    tchair
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    Re: Seeking advice on shattered heel

    Marcie,
    On the subject of a collapsing heel, it seems I've been the only one out of the dozens that have come here. The others have experienced weakness, instability and pain in the ankle during recovery, but so far no others have specifically used the word collapse. When I initially told my surgeon he dismissed it. Then I spent a lot of time observing what happened when I put my weight down, comparing it to my 'good' foot, watching it in a mirror and finally took some pictures from behind (self timer). On my next appointment I was prepared to demonstrate what was happening. My doc said: "Fine, go here." and gave me an address. It turned out to be an Orthotics & Prosthetics clinic and they knew just what I needed. The technician had me stand and then positioned my leg so that it was in a straight line. That entailed pushing my ankle outward and resulted in the inside of my heel lifting slightly off of the floor. Next he heated some orthodic foam and had me stand on it with my leg straight as the foam cooled. Then when I put my weight on it my leg stayed straight. Finally he traced the original sole liner from my shoe and cut the foam to match. With the foam thicker under the inside edge of my heel it no longer dropped down and allowed my ankle to keel over. I wasn't sure that it was making a difference in the first few minutes of trying it, but by the time I got back to my car I realized that walking had gotten a whole lot easier.

    When I read your post I took off my shoes to see what I could observe. The best I can say along with you can feel it 'cave in' is that on my good foot I cannot see the side of it below the ankle bone while on the one that collapses I can clearly see the surface as it is way out here and facing a lot more upward. What I have is called a soft orthodic. I was told that if my foot was more 'off' it would have required making a mold and sending it out for a hard plastic one. Mine cost $100. My insurance paid and it has lasted for years. There are a lot of 'corrective inserts' out there, but I think something specifically tailored for your foot would be the most promising. By the way, after standing barefoot yesterday (sans orthodic) when I read your post my ankle was sore for the rest of the day.

     
    Old 08-03-2005, 01:04 PM   #15
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    Re: Seeking advice on shattered heel

    Hi,
    I'm recovering from rt. heel cal fracture and ankle. I flew down a flight of stairs (without wings) on 2/6/05. Ortho Surgeon said I did not need surgery. Felt insecure & went to NYC specialist and said I was borderline surgery, however too late since it was 3 weeks later and starting to heal. I had a cam walker for 3 months, then crutches and cane and now I am walking with pain every step I take. I was in so much pain I decided to go to a Dr. in Florida (our 2nd home). He referred me to a heel specialist and all the Dr. did was look at the exrays and without a doubt said I needed surgery because the heel was gone and I was bone on bone to the ankle causing damage to the ankle. I would be starting all over again as if I just had the accident. He would put 2 screws and a plate and build up the heel. He also said if I don't do it I would get worse instead of better. Boy, I am so scared. I don't know which way to turn. Has anyone gone through this situation? I would apprediate any info.

     
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