A properly functioning heel is essential to normal, smooth, and painless gait. The heel is the first area to strike the ground during normal gait, which means it takes the brunt of the stress incurred during walking and running activities. Of course, this also means that the heel is highly prone to injury. One such injury is called heel bursitis.
Wearing poorly fitting or constrictive footwear can cause the heel to become irritated and inflamed. Shoes that dig into the back of the heel are the primary cause of retroachilles bursitis. Foot or ankle deformity. A foot or ankle deformity can make it more likely to develop retrocalcaneal bursitis. For example, some people can have an abnormal, prominent shape of the top of their heel, known as a Haglund's deformity. This condition increases the chances of irritating the bursa. A trauma to the affected heel, such as inadvertently striking the back of the heel against a hard object, can cause the bursa to fill with fluid, which in turn can irritate and inflame the bursa's synovial membrane. Even though the body usually reabsorbs the fluid, the membrane may stay inflamed, causing bursitis symptoms.
Bursitis usually causes a dull pain, tenderness, and stiffness near the affected bursa. The bursa may swell and make the skin around it red and warm to the touch. Bursitis is most common in the shoulder camera.gif, elbow camera.gif, hip camera.gif, and knee camera.gif. Bursitis may also occur near the Achilles tendon or in the foot. Symptoms of bursitis may be like those of tendinopathy. Both occur in the tissues in and around the joints. Check with your doctor if your pain is severe, if the sore area becomes very hot or red, or if you have a fever.
When you are experiencing Achilles pain at the back of your heel, a visit to the doctor is always recommended. Getting a proper diagnosis is important so you can treat your condition correctly. A doctor visit is always recommended.
Non Surgical Treatment
Most bursitis cases can be treated by the patient without having to see a doctor. A trip to a pharmacy, a conversation with the pharmacist, and some self-care techniques are usually enough. The NHS (National Health Service, UK) recommends PRICEM, a self-care management approach. PRICEM stands for Protection. Rest. Ice. Compression. Elevation. Medication. Protect the affected area, Some people place padding to protect the affected bursae from any blow. Rest. Do not exercise or use the joints in the affected area unless you really have to. Let it rest. Bursitis is a condition that responds well to rest. Ice packs. Ice packs can help reduce pain and inflammation. Make sure you do not place the ice directly on the skin, use a pack or towel. A small pack of frozen vegetables are ideal. Raise the affected area. If you can, lift the affected area, raise it, less blood will gather there. This may help reduce the inflammation. Painkillers. Ibuprofen is an effective painkiller for treating pain, it also reduces inflammation. Steroids. For more severe symptoms the doctor may inject steroids into the affected area. Steroids block a body chemical called prostaglandin. Prostaglandin causes inflammation. Steroids may raise the patient's blood pressure if used for too long, as well as increasing his/her risk of getting an infection. UK doctors are advised not to give more than three steroid injections in one year. Antibiotics. If the fluid test confirms that there is a bacterial infection, the doctor will probably prescribe antibiotics. These will be administered orally (via mouth).
Surgery to remove the damaged bursa may be performed in extreme cases. If the bursitis is caused by an infection, then additional treatment is needed. Septic bursitis is caused by the presence of a pus-forming organism, usually staphylococcus aureus. This is confirmed by examining a sample of the fluid in the bursa and requires treatment with antibiotics taken by mouth, injected into a muscle or into a vein (intravenously). The bursa will also need to be drained by needle two or three times over the first week of treatment. When a patient has such a serious infection, there may be underlying causes. There could be undiscovered diabetes, or an inefficient immune system caused by human immunodeficiency virus infection (HIV).
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.