Heel bursitis is specifically the inflammation of the retrocalcaneal bursa, located at the back of the heel, under the Achilles tendon. There are a handful of factors that put you at risk for
developing heel bursitis. Long distance runners are prone to heel bursitis, due to repeated stress and pounding upon the heel joint. Engaging in activities such as running, bicycling, walking,
jumping, and stair climbing for extended periods of time can overwork the heel joints and start to irritate the bursae. Suddenly changing to a high-intensity workout regime puts a lot of stress on
the heel, making it vulnerable to injury. Hard blows/bumps to the heel can immediately damage the bursae, leading to swelling and inflammation. Training at high intensities without stretching and
warming up can also contribute to the development of heel bursitis. Even improper footwear can be a big factor. Some other conditions can put you at risk as well, such as: tarsal tunnel syndrome,
rheumatoid arthritis, plantar fasciitis, muscle weakness, joint stiffness, and heel spurs. It is very important to get a professional diagnosis if you are having heel pain because heel bursitis is
often confused for Achilles tendonitis, and the proper treatments are very different. The pain could also be plantar fasciitis or general heel pain syndrome.
Bursitis can develop for several reasons, including repetitively engaging in the same motion, or example, lifting objects above your head for work. Putting a lot of pressure on a bursa for an
extended period of time. Leaning on your elbows or kneeling (for example, to lay carpet) can cause bursitis in the elbows or knees. If you sit for long periods of time, especially on hard surfaces,
you may develop bursitis in your hip. Wearing shoes with a stiff back that rubs against the back of the ankle can cause Achilles tendon bursitis. Trauma. The bursae at the knee and elbow are close to
the surface of the skin, and if you fall directly on your elbow or the knee, you can rupture, injure or puncture a bursa. Infection. Known as septic bursitis, it?s the result of bacteria infecting a
bursa. It can occur from an infection traveling from another site or following an accident that ruptures the bursa. Even scraping the skin on your elbow or getting a mosquito bite that breaks the
skin near the olecranon bursa (near the elbow) can lead to bursitis. Other joint disorders, such as rheumatoid arthritis, osteoarthritis and gout, or health conditions.
In retrocalcaneal bursitis, pain at the back of the heel is the main complaint from patients. Pain may worsen when tip-toeing, running uphill, jumping or hopping. Often, those who are accustomed to
wearing high-heeled shoes on a long-term basis may also complain of pain at the back of the heel when switching to flat shoes. This is because when in high-heeled shoes, the calf muscle and the
Achilles tendon are in a shortened position. Switching to flat shoes would cause an increased stretch to the calf muscle and Achilles tendon, irritating the Achilles tendon and the retrocalcaneal
bursa. Other symptoms may include redness and swelling at the back of the 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
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.
You can avoid the situation all together if you stop activity as soon as you see, and feel, the signs. Many runners attempt to push through pain, but ignoring symptoms only leads to more problems.
It?s better to take some time off right away than to end up taking far more time off later. Runners aren?t the only ones at risk. The condition can happen to any type of athlete of any age. For all
you women out there who love to wear high-heels-you?re at a greater risk as well. Plus, anyone whose shoes are too tight can end up with calcaneal bursitis, so make sure your footwear fits. If the
outside of your heel and ankle hurts, calcaneal bursitis could be to blame. Get it checked out.