Achilles bursitis is one of those injuries that can really bring down the quality of your life. Anyone, young or old, can suffer from this injury, and if you're active this condition will keep you
from doing the things you love to do. It will even start interrupting any of your normal daily tasks and make living life harder than it really needs to be. Fortunately for you, professional athletes
have had access to state of the art treatment therapies for years that allow them to heal more quickly and completely than you or I. This is why athletes that have a serious heel bursitis injury can
often get back in the game in a matter of weeks while you could suffer for months or even years (in chronic cases).
Inflammation of the calcaneal bursae is most commonly caused by repetitive overuse and cumulative trauma, as seen in runners wearing tight-fitting shoes. Such bursitis may also be associated with
conditions such as gout, rheumatoid arthritis, and seronegative spondyloarthropathies. In some cases, subtendinous calcaneal bursitis is caused by bursal impingement between the Achilles tendon and
an excessively prominent posterior superior aspect of a calcaneus that has been affected by Haglund deformity. With Haglund disease, impingement occurs during ankle dorsiflexion.
A dull ache under the heel when not weight bearing. Sometimes severe pain when walking. Pain can increase after resting (sleeping or sitting) then standing and placing pressure on the area again.
Throbbing under the heel. Swelling may be identified as a discernible lump under the heel. This is the swollen calcaneal bursa itself. Tingling under the heel as swelling affect the plantar nerves.
Pains shooting into the foot or up the leg.
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
For non-infectious bursitis, the preliminary treatment starts with non-operative options such as cold compression therapy and Blood Flow Stimulation Therapy. Surgery to remove the inflamed bursa is
normally not required for bursitis, however if you fail to see improvement with the conservative treatments, your physician may recommend surgery to remove the bursa completely. Although this removes
the problem of an inflamed bursa, you are left with less cushioning in your joint which can lead to a host of other conditions.
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.
You can help to prevent heel pain and bursitis by maintaining a healthy weight, by warming up before participating in sports and by wearing shoes that support the arch of the foot and cushion the
heel. If you are prone to plantar fasciitis, exercises that stretch the Achilles tendon (heel cord) and plantar fascia may help to prevent the area from being injured again. You also can massage the
soles of your feet with ice after stressful athletic activities. Sometimes, the only interventions needed are a brief period of rest and new walking or running shoes.