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Calcaneal Oedema
(Bruised Heel Bone)

Presenting as pain in the bottom of the heel, this is a very common condition that is often found with plantar fasciitis. Often, those whose main problem is calcaneal oedema will find that they might have a bit of pain when getting up from rest, but that their pain gets worse as they move around, rather than better (in the case of plantar fasciitis).

A side-on x-ray view of a foot

About Calcaneal Oedema

The heel bone is known as the 'calcaneus' and 'oedema' means swelling. So, in this case, calcaneal oedema refers to swelling (inflammation) of the heel bone - often due to bruising. 

It is particularly common in people with reduced fatty padding under their heels, and likewise in people who have been walking on hard surfaces without shock absorbing-enough footwear on. 

It's very common when people change their flooring at home from carpets to hard flooring and is also easily misdiagnosed as plantar fasciitis.


Calcaneal Oedema: grading

When we think about damage to a bone, there are effectively different grades of bruising. 

It is worth noting that what can start off as a mild bruise can progress to an actual fracture of the heel bone. 

Interestingly, there's a fracture known as the 'Casa nova fracture' because men would get it when jumping out of windows. I wonder why they were jumping out of windows though?

A side-on x-ray of a foot where the heel bone is broken. This is known as a Casa Nova Fracture.
A side-on x-ray view of a foot with quite large heel spurs where the Achilles and the Plantar Fascia attach

What else could it be?

There are over 40 common conditions that have the 'heel pain' symptom. Common ones are:

How is calcaneal oedema diagnosed?

Clinical examination and a thorough history is often adequate, however, in some instances it can be useful to use imaging to

  • Confirm the diagnosis

  • Identify how severe the problem is

  • Rule out other problems.

MRI scans are the gold-standard for imaging if calcaneal oedema is suspected. However, if the history suggests that a fracture should be considered, then it can be worthwhile getting a CT scan.

X-rays can be helpful, however, because the heel bone is quite thick, it is difficult to see smaller fractures with this modality. 

A podiatrist doing an ultrasound scan of the back of someone's heel.
A person standing on their tip toes

How is Calcaneal Oedema treated?

Calcaneal Oedema is a condition which requires a careful balance of rest to reduce the inflammation, but activity in order to encourage good (and strong) bone healing.

Ready to start being pain free?

How long does it take to cure calcaneal oedema?

The duration will vary based on:

  • Severity of the problem

  • Duration of the problem

  • How well patients stick to their treatment plan.

The majority of patients will find they are back to normal activities within two weeks with little-to-no remaining symptoms. 

However, if you have factors that mean you are more likely to develop calcaneal oedema, then you may need to consider lifestyle or footwear changes to prevent the symptoms recurring. 

No two people can be treated the same way when it comes to any medical issues, and the goal of how we treat patients is always to get you back to what you want to be doing. 

Lady running with her dog
Ready to say goodbye to your pain?

At Keep On Your Feet, we openly acknowledge that we cannot guarantee a cure for things: but we will work as hard as we can with you to help you reach your goals. 

If your symptoms fit the above, you will need to book a 'Foot Pain' consultation. This will be £95 and lasts approximately 60 minutes usually. If you need insoles, we'll give you some basic ones to try out (or some fancier ones and reduce their price!). 

This is a picture of Jeremy Ousey, director and podiatrist of Keep On Your Feet.

About the Author

Jeremy Ousey is the owner at Swansea's podiatry clinic: Keep On Your Feet. All the information found on this page was written by him (there's no AI or Chat-GPT here!), and has been carefully chosen to provide you with the information that you need to know about the condition. Jeremy has a Bachelor of Science in Podiatry, with honours, a Post-Graduate Certificate in Podiatric Sports Medicine, a Post-Graduate Diploma in Medical Ultrasound, and two Master's of Science degrees in the Theory of Podiatric Surgery, and Sports & Exercise Medicine. If you would like to know more about Jeremy, please click here.

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