How To Treat Bursitis Of The Feet

Bursitis, Foot Pain

Overview

Retrocalcaneal bursitis is closely related to Haglund?s Deformity (or ?pump bumps?). If you have a bony enlargement on the back of the heel that rubs the Achilles tendon, it can cause the formation of a bursa (small fluid filled sack). It usually happens in athletes as shoes rub against the heel. The bursa can aggravated by the stitching of a heel counter in the shoe as well. It can make wearing shoes and exercising difficult. Another term used for this condition is ?pump bump? because it can frequently occur with wearing high heels as well. ?Retro-” means behind and ?calcaneus? means heel bone. So this is precisely where the bursitis (inflammation of the bursa) develops. Once it begins and you develop bursitis between the heel bone and the Achilles tendon, it can become even more painful. When most people first notice retrocalcaneal bursitis, it is because the skin, bursa and other soft tissues at the back of the heel gets irritated as the knot of bone rubs against the heel counter in shoes. The back of the shoes create friction and pressure that aggravate the bony enlargement and pinches the bursa while you walk.

Causes

The retrocalcaneal bursa can become inflamed as the result of another condition, such as damage to the Achilles tendon, osteoarthritis, rheumatoid arthritis, gout, and pseudogout. In these instances, the treatment for bursitis must accompany treatment for the underlying condition. Septic retrocalcaneal bursitis, which is caused by an infection, is uncommon. Infection can reach the bursa through a cut, puncture, a blister, or even an insect bite. It is possible to have septic bursitis without an obvious opening. In these cases the superficial wound may have healed quickly, but still allowed bacteria into the bursa.

Symptoms

Your feet are extremely resilient and are designed to stand up to the pressures of day-to-day living. In some cases, though, foot structures may break down when subjected to chronic stress associated with prolonged periods of weight-bearing activity on concrete, asphalt, or other hard surfaces (especially when your footwear does not allow for appropriate weight distribution). Foot problems, including infracalcaneal bursitis, are often exacerbated by poorly designed footwear, and pressure, impact, and shear forces can damage your feet over time. Bursal sacs are intended to minimize this damage, but sometimes the bursa itself becomes inflamed.

Diagnosis

Your GP or therapist will be able to diagnose you by both listening to your history and examining you. No X-rays or further investigation should be needed to confirm diagnosis but may be requested to check for any underlying health conditions that may have triggered the bursitis.

Non Surgical Treatment

Gradual and progressive stretching of the Achilles tendon. Exercises to strengthen and support the ankle. Rest or reduced weight bearing activities. Immobilisation in a cast for 4-6 weeks for severe cases. Ice. Proper fitting and supportive footwear. Massage. Joint mobilisation. Anti-inflammatory medications: only if this does not have adverse results with the patient’s current medication. Heel pads and heel lifts. Footwear Advice. Strapping and padding Orthoses/innersoles. The orthotics prescribed and designed by the podiatrists at the Heel and Arch Pain Clinic (affiliated with Beyond Podiatry) are made to align the foot in the correct posture. Surgery is indicated in severe cases when conservative treatment has not resolved the problem.

Prevention

Continue to wear your orthotics for work and exercise to provide stability and restore foot function. Select suitable shoes for work and physical activity that provide stability for the heel. Regular stretching of the calf muscle can prevent heel bursitis. Do not suddenly increase activity amount without appropriate conditioning.

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