Bursitis Of The Heel Indications

Overview

A bursa is a fluid-containing sac that is present at many areas of pressure on the body. Its job is to protect these areas of pressure by being a shock absorber. A bursitis is an abnormal inflammation of the bursa sac caused by abnormal excessive pressure, stress and/ or strain over the area it is protecting. On the heel bone, there are two bursa sacs: one on the bottom and the other on the back. Specifically on the bottom of the heel, it is known as an Inferior (bottom) Calcaneal (heel) Bursa. On the back of the heel, it is called the Retro (back) Calcaneal Bursa. When either of these bursas become abnormally stressed, strained, or swollen, the result is bursitis of the heel. It is this bursitis that is the reason for pain in the heel upon arising (Poststatic Dyskinesia) in the morning or after resting for a while. You can either develop these bursitises with or without the presence of heel spur (explanation to follow). As stated before, Morton?s Toe can cause this by causing over pronation in the foot.

Causes

The causes and risk factors of retrocalcaneal bursitis are listed below. Identifying the underlying reason the bursa is inflamed will help set a course for treatment. Repetitive use of the ankle. Retrocalcaneal bursitis is often caused by frequent "mini-traumas." These mini-traumas are often due to excessive walking, jumping, or running. Running uphill, which causes the foot to flex considerably, can be especially irritating to the retrocalcaneal bursae. People who suddenly intensify their exercise programs without adequate stretching and muscle conditioning may get retrocalcaneal bursitis. In general, it is often associated with over use of the Achilles attachment, the area where the Achilles tendon fibers attach to the heel.

Symptoms

Pain at the back of the heel, especially when running uphill. Pain may get worse when rising on the toes (standing on tiptoes). Tenderness at the back of heel. Swelling at the back of heel.

Diagnosis

When you suspect you have retrocalcaneal bursitis, your foot doctor will begin by taking a complete history of the condition. A physical exam will also be performed. X-rays are usually taken on the first visit as well to determine the shape of the heel bone, joint alignment in the rearfoot, and to look for calcium deposits in the Achilles tendon. The history, exam and x-rays may sufficient for your foot surgeon to get an idea of the treatment that will be required. In some cases, it may be necessary to get an ultrasound or MRI to further evaluate the Achilles tendon or its associated bursa. While calcium deposits can show up on xray, the inflammation in the tendon and bursa will show up much better on ultrasound and MRI. The results of these tests can usually be explained on the first visit. You can then have a full understanding of how the problem started, what you can do to treat prevent it from getting worse/ You will also know which treatment will be most helpful in making your heel pain go away.

Non Surgical Treatment

Over-the-counter or custom heel wedges may help to decrease the stress placed on the attachment of the achilles tendon and the associated bursa. If these interventions are ineffective, then some health care providers may inject a small amount of steroids into the bursa. If the condition is associated with Achilles tendonitis, then casting the ankle to prevent motion for several weeks can be effective. Very rarely, surgery may be necessary to remove the inflamed bursa.

Surgical Treatment

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.

Prevention

Once your pain and inflammation is gone, you can prevent retrocalcaneal bursitis deformity by wearing the best shoes for your foot type. You should high-heels and pumps if possible. Wear orthotics (custom arch supports) or over-the-counter orthotic devices. Perform frequent Achilles tendon stretching exercises to prevent it from becoming tight agian. Avoiding running uphill when training. Try to run on softer surfaces and avoid concrete.

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