This is a very common condition that leads to foot pain . Once you understand what it actually is you will wonder why it does not occur more often, particularly in the foot. It is an inflamed bursal sac. A bursal sac is a sac filled with fluid that acts to lubricate and reduce the friction between two surfaces in the body, usually muscles and tendons as they glide over bony prominences, however their purpose in not limited to just muscles and tendons. The body contains literally hundreds of bursal sacs but in the foot there is just one naturally occurring (adventitious) bursal sac. It is located between the Achilles tendon and the heel bone (calcaneaus), otherwise known as an achilles tendon bursal sac.In this instance the Achilles tendon is protected from the pressure of the heel bone pressing against it when we walk.
Age. Bursitis is more common during middle age due to repetitive activities that put wear and tear on the body over time. Certain activities or occupations. If your job or hobby involves repetitive motion or puts pressure on bursae, you have a higher likelihood of developing bursitis. Reaching overhead, leaning elbows on arm rests, crossing your legs, laying carpet, setting tile, gardening, biking, playing baseball and ice skating are some activities that, when repeated very often, can put you at increased risk of developing bursitis. Sports in which you may get hit in the knee or fall to the knees, such as football, can also increase the risk. Some medical or health conditions. Rheumatoid arthritis, osteoarthritis, gout, thyroid disease, diabetes, alcoholism and some immunosuppressive disorders can increase the risk of bursitis. The reasons can vary, from cartilage breakdown around joints (arthritis) to crystals in the bursa that cause inflammation (gout). Wearing high heels. Posterior Achilles tendon bursitis occurs when the bursa located between the skin and the Achilles tendon (the band of tissue that attaches the calf muscle to the heel bone) becomes inflamed. High heels are often to blame for this, the stiff heel can put direct pressure on the bursa between the skin and the Achilles tendon.
Pain at the back of the heel, especially with jumping, hopping, tip-toeing, walking or running uphill or on soft surfaces. If tendonitis is also present, the pain can radiate away from the bursa. Direct pressure on the bursa will exacerbate the pain and should be avoided if possible. Tenderness and swelling which might make it difficult to wear certain shoes on the feet. As the bursa becomes more inflamed you will experience swelling and warmth. In severe cases, the bursa will appear as a bump, called a "pump bump", and is usually red, and extremely tender. Swelling can cause difficulties moving as the range of motion in the ankle can be affected. Limping due to the pain may occur. If you press on both sides of the inflamed heel, there may be a firm spongy feeling. Weakness in the tendons and muscles surrounding the bursa can develop as the pain worsens and the inflammation in the area spreads. Possibly a fever if you are suffering from septic bursitis (You will need to see a doctor for medication to get rid of the infection). Pain at the back of the heel makes it difficult to continue wearing shoes, especially high heels with straps or shoes that don't fit properly.
A physical examination will be performed to determine if you have any signs of Achilles Bursitis or other ankle injury. He/she will look and feel the soft tissue and bones in your ankles to note any differences between the two of them. This will identify any abnormalities, such as swelling, bone deformities, atrophied muscles, redness and/or warmth on the skin. In many cases, the first sign that you have Achilles bursitis is swelling in the back of the foot and ankle pain.
Non Surgical Treatment
With anterior and posterior Achilles tendon bursitis, applying warm or cool compresses to the area and using nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) can temporarily relieve the pain and inflammation, as can injections of a corticosteroid/anesthetic mixture into the inflamed bursa. The doctor is careful not to inject the mixture into the tendon. After this treatment, the person should rest. When these treatments are not effective, part of the heel bone may need to be surgically removed.
Only if non-surgical attempts at treatment fail, will it make sense to consider surgery. Surgery for retrocalcanel bursitis can include many different procedures. Some of these include removal of the bursa, removing any excess bone at the back of the heel (calcaneal exostectomy), and occasionally detachment and re-attachment of the Achilles tendon. If the foot structure and shape of the heel bone is a primary cause of the bursitis, surgery to re-align the heel bone (calcaneal osteotomy) may be considered. Regardless of which exact surgery is planned, the goal is always to decrease pain and correct the deformity. The idea is to get you back to the activities that you really enjoy. Your foot and ankle surgeon will determine the exact surgical procedure that is most likely to correct the problem in your case. But if you have to have surgery, you can work together to develop a plan that will help assure success.
After taking a history and performing a physical examination, your physician may order x-rays to rule out other disorders. Your doctor may administer injections of corticosteroids and a local anesthetic to reduce swelling and ease pain. Also, to reduce swelling, your physician may draw excess fluid from the bursa with a syringe and then tightly wrap and compress the joint with an elastic bandage. In severe, persistent cases surgery to remove the bursa may be necessary. For infectious bursitis, antibiotics will be prescribed.