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Fracture Care Program

Heel Fractures

A heel fracture can take its toll on a person’s lifestyle. Not only do these severe fractures cause constant pain, but they also can affect basic mobility. If left untreated, in fact, they can cause long-term disabilities. As the heel (or “calcaneus”) is the foot’s largest bone, any damage is problematic. In addition, the heel houses the Achilles’ tendon and multiple nerves, blood vessels and muscles that enable movement.

As such, heel fractures require immediate medical attention. There may be no better place to receive this attention than the Florida Hospital Orthopaedic Institute Orlando (FHOIO). FHOIO medical director J. Cole Dean, MD, is a trailblazer in orthopedic trauma who specializes in the treatment of calcaneus fractures.

J. Dean Cole, MD pioneered the minimally invasive surgical approach to treating heel fractures. His techniques are now considered the gold standard among orthopedic specialists. He has assembled a skilled team of surgical and medical professionals who have years of experience in treating calcaneus fractures and related conditions, including:

  • Foot fractures or dislocations
  • Arthritis in the foot or ankle
  • Diabetes-related deformities
  • Foot deformities, including flat feet

After undergoing a minimally invasive heel fracture procedure, patients generally experience a faster recovery, fewer complications, improved mobility and all-around better health. These patients are also less likely to experience post-surgical stiffness and pain to the foot, which could require additional procedures.

After surgery at the Florida Hospital Orthopaedic Institute Orlando, patients usually return to work or school more quickly, with only minimal restrictions once the fracture has healed.

If you’ve suffered a heel fracture, please contact us  to schedule your treatment today. 


While numerous causes may be responsible, heel fractures, regardless of their severity, can take a damaging toll on patients’ lifestyles. Left untreated, these fractures can make walking extremely difficult and painful. The Florida Hospital Orthopaedic Institute Orlando (FHOIO) has become a destination for the treatment of heel fractures.

When dealing with heel and related fractures, both the cause and degree of the deformity may determine the proper treatment. With these injuries, it’s not uncommon for the heel bone (or calcaneus) to become misaligned with the ankle and/or leg. In these cases, surgery may be required to reshape the heel.

Fortunately, the orthopedic specialists at the FHOIO have performed countless procedures to treat heel fractures, and have an amazing success rate. J. Dean Cole, MD places a great importance on minimally invasive surgery, especially in repairing heel fractures, and has pioneered this approach. This technique has fewer complications and has resulted in highly successful outcomes.

J. Dean Cole, MD has perfected a unique, specialized calcaneus treatment that is used by all FHOIO physicians. Specifically, this procedure actually restores the bones’ normal shapes. In this surgical procedure, the surgeon makes a small (1–1.5 inch) incision on the outer part of the foot. The orthopedic specialists then cut into the problematic bones, redirecting them to the desired positions using external devices that are removed before the patient awakes from surgery.

Both the reshaping and the pull of the accompanying tendons contribute to beneficial outcomes and decreased complication rates. The minimally invasive approach generally restores patients’ normal range of motion for their feet and ankles. Typically, these patients return to work with minimal restrictions once the fracture has healed. J. Dean Cole, MD’s approach may also minimize the development of stiff, painful feet, which can sometimes lead to more surgery.

This treatment is in stark contrast to the traditional approach used by other orthopedic surgeons. The traditional approach utilizes a large L-shaped incision, and carries a larger risk of complications increases because the large incision can affect healthy tissue, muscle and crucial nerves in the foot.

In addition, if a patient has sustained compound fractures and has marked swelling and fracture blisters, surgery may be delayed a week or longer. This delay means the patient is out of work or school longer, and there is a chance the injury may start to heal incorrectly, causing further complications. The traditional L-shaped incision increases recovery and healing time because more trauma to tissue and muscle has occurred.

The FHOIO team’s minimally invasive approach provides our patients a superior level of care. This has become the hallmark of the Florida Hospital Orthopaedic Institute Orlando’s reputation in the treatment of heel fractures.

The Florida Hospital Orthopaedic Institute Orlando also treats planovalgus (“flat feet”) deformity corrections. In severe cases, the foot’s arch may collapse, causing serious pain and deformities. Surgeons must reshape the foot and/or fuse any deformed joints. After surgery, the arch of the foot is restored; patients’ insteps can be surgically reshaped, as well.

These procedures require precise manipulation and care, so they should only be performed by orthopedic surgeons who have a specific breadth of experience. The FHOIO physicians and surgical teams are uniquely qualified in this regard.

If you require the services of an expert orthopedic specialist in Orlando qualified in treating heel fractures and other foot treatments, please contact us .

Patient stories

Andy, an avid skydiver, decided to celebrate his birthday by making his 704th jump with several friends. Unfortunately, on his descent the ground winds became unpredictable, and he was forced to land at a nearby golf course. At 20 feet, Andy’s lines went slack and his parachute collapsed. He dropped straight on his heels, shattering them completely. 

Andy sustained fractures in both of his heels. Fortunately this was his only major injury. Andy was told by a podiatrist in the emergency room that his heel fractures were the worst he had ever seen. The podiatrist recommended that Andy seek the expertise of Dr. J. Dean Cole, who has vast experience treating heel fractures. 

Shortly after J. Dean Cole, MD’s evaluation, Andy underwent surgery to repair his heels. J. Dean Cole, MD’s unique minimally invasive approach to this complex procedure successfully repaired the fractures and allowed Andy to return to work earlier than he expected. Within weeks, Andy was able to work part time as a veterinarian, and within four months of surgery he returned full time.

Only seven and half months later, Andy made his 705th skydive.