Heel bursitis is specifically the inflammation of the retrocalcaneal bursa, located at the back of the heel, under the Achilles tendon. There are a handful of factors that put you at risk for developing heel bursitis. Long distance runners are prone to heel bursitis, due to repeated stress and pounding upon the heel joint. Engaging in activities such as running, bicycling, walking, jumping, and stair climbing for extended periods of time can overwork the heel joints and start to irritate the bursae. Suddenly changing to a high-intensity workout regime puts a lot of stress on the heel, making it vulnerable to injury. Hard blows/bumps to the heel can immediately damage the bursae, leading to swelling and inflammation. Training at high intensities without stretching and warming up can also contribute to the development of heel bursitis. Even improper footwear can be a big factor. Some other conditions can put you at risk as well, such as: tarsal tunnel syndrome, rheumatoid arthritis, plantar fasciitis, muscle weakness, joint stiffness, and heel spurs. It is very important to get a professional diagnosis if you are having heel pain because heel bursitis is often confused for Achilles tendonitis, and the proper treatments are very different. The pain could also be plantar fasciitis or general heel pain syndrome.
Bursitis is commonly caused by overuse and repeated movements. These can include daily activities such as using tools, gardening, cooking, cleaning, and typing at a keyboard. Long periods of pressure on an area. For example, carpet layers, roofers, or gardeners who work on their knees all day can develop bursitis over the kneecap. Aging, which can cause the bursa to break down over time. Sudden injury, such as a blow to the elbow. Bursitis can also be caused by other problems, such as arthritis or infection (septic bursitis).
Pain and tenderness usually develop slowly over time. Applying pressure to the back of the heel can cause pain. Wearing shoes may become uncomfortable. The back of the heel may feel achy. Pain is exacerbated when the foot is pointed or flexed, because the swollen bursa can get squeezed. A person with retrocalcaneal bursitis may feel pain when standing on their toes. Fever or chills in addition to other bursitis symptoms can be a sign of septic bursitis. Though uncommon, septic retrocalcaneal bursitis is a serious condition, and patients should seek medical care to ensure the infection does not spread.
Careful examination by your physician or physiotherapist can determine if the inflammation is from the Achilles tendon or from the retrocalcaneal bursa. Tenderness due to insertional Achilles tendinitis is normally located slightly more distal where the tendon inserts into the back of the heel, whereas tenderness caused by the retrocalcaneal bursa is normally palpable at the sides of the distal Achilles tendon. Diagnosis can be confirmed with an ultrasound investigation, MRI or CT scan.
Non Surgical Treatment
Here are some of the most effective treatments for infracalcaneal bursitis Temporarily avoiding weight-bearing activities that put stress or strain on the heel bone can very helpful in treating infracalcaneal bursitis. PRICE (protection, rest, hot/cold contrast compresses, compression, and elevation) is another good acute management technique for this foot problem. Changing footwear is an effective long-term prevention and treatment tool for infracalcaneal bursitis. Shoes that possess a flat support base from heel to toe, a sufficiently wide toe box to accommodate natural toe splay, and a flexible sole that can be easily bent or twisted are best for preventing and managing infracalcaneal bursitis. An integrated approach to this problem usually involves the use of padded socks or heel cups to help reduce pressure, friction, and inflammation under the heel. Natural anti-inflammatory agents can also be helpful in quelling inflammation, reducing pain, and improving treatment times for infracalcaneal bursitis. In rare cases, more aggressive treatment methods may be required, such as cortisone injections or surgery to drain the bursal sac. Always consult your physician before beginning any healthcare regimen designed to treat infracalcaneal bursitis.
Surgery is rarely done strictly for treatment of a bursitis. If any underlying cause is the reason, this may be addressed surgically. During surgery for other conditions, a bursa may be seen and removed surgically.