In the foot we have a unique situation in that between the shoes that we wear and the ground that we walk on various parts of the foot are constantly being ?micro? traumatized meaning that every time
we take a step we do a small amount of damage to a particular part of the foot and eventually that part of the foot begins to hurt. The body?s response to this micro-trauma is to create a bursal sac
to initially protect the area but if micro-traumatized enough the bursal sac itself becomes inflamed and we have a bursitis.
Overuse of the ankle joint may cause irritation of the bursa such as excessive walking, running or jumping. Poor biomechanics and foot function may ultimately lead to heel bursitis due to pulling on
the back of the heel by the Achilles tendon.
A sudden increase in physical activity without adequate rest may result in heel bursitis. Excessive standing and walking bare foot on hard surfaces.
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.
Medical examination is not necessarily required in light cases where the tenderness is minimal. In all cases where smooth improvement is not experienced, medical attention should be sought as soon as
possible to exclude a (partial) rupture of the Achilles tendon or rupture of the soleus muscle. This situation is best determined by use of ultrasound scanning, as a number of injuries requiring
treatment can easily be overlooked during a clinical examination (Ultrasonic image). Ultrasound scanning enables an evaluation of the extent of the change in the tendon, inflammation of the tendon
(tendinitis), development of cicatricial tissue (tendinosis), calcification, inflammation of the tissue surrounding the tendon (peritendinitis), inflammation of the bursa (bursitis), as well as
Non Surgical Treatment
In addition to being aware of foot-wear and inserts, be sure to modify your activity level to reduce the pain initially. Taking non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) and icing twice a day
for 20 minute periods can help reduce the swell that leads to heel pain. Cortisone injections (more powerful anti-inflammatory medications) can be considered if your symptoms are persistent. After
the swelling and pain has receded, ask your podiatrist about working with a physical therapist to strengthen the affected area in order to avoid bursitis by using your muscles in a more safe and
efficient manner. If all these treatment methods fail, surgery may be the best option to excise a painful bursa (note that this is in rare cases).
Bursectomy is a surgical procedure used to remove an inflamed or infected bursa, which is a fluid-filled sac that reduces friction between tissues of the body. Because retrocalcaneal bursitis can
cause chronic inflammation, pain and discomfort, bursectomy may be used as a treatment for the condition when it is persistent and cannot be relived with other treatments. During this procedure, a
surgeon makes small incisions so that a camera may be inserted into the joint. This camera is called an arthroscope. Another small incision is made so that surgical instruments can be inserted to
remove the inflamed bursa.