Retrocalcaneal bursitis is the painful inflammation and swelling of the retrocalcaneal bursa that is situated between the calcaneus (heel bone) and the Achilles tendon. A bursa is a small fluid filled sac that forms around joints in areas where there is a lot of friction between muscles, tendons and outcrops of bone. The bursae position themselves in between the tendon or muscle and the bone, buffering any friction from movement. To picture a bursa imagine it as a very small water filled balloon that sits in places where things rub against each other, such as in between a tendon and a bone, to provide a soft smooth cushion for the tendon to pass over painlessly. The covering of the bursa also acts as a lubricant and aids the tendon?s movement. It is estimated that there is over 150 bursae in your body which protect the joint and tendons from wear. They are all very small and unnoticeable until they become swollen and painful with bursitis.
The calcaneal bursa can become inflamed in patients with heel spurs or in patients with poor-fitting shoes (eg, high heels). Inflammation can occur secondarily from Achilles tendinitis, especially in young athletes. Patients exhibit tenderness to palpation of the bursa anterior to the Achilles tendon on both the medial and lateral aspects. They have pain with movement, which is worsened with dorsiflexion.
Pain and tenderness usually develop slowly over time. Applying pressure to the back of the heel can cause pain. Wearing shoes may become uncomfortable. The back of the heel may feel achy. Pain is exacerbated when the foot is pointed or flexed, because the swollen bursa can get squeezed. A person with retrocalcaneal bursitis may feel pain when standing on their toes. Fever or chills in addition to other bursitis symptoms can be a sign of septic bursitis. Though uncommon, septic retrocalcaneal bursitis is a serious condition, and patients should seek medical care to ensure the infection does not spread.
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
Most patients with achilles and retrocalcaneal bursitis heal well with appropriate physiotherapy and other usual bursitis conventional and natural cures being administered. Specific treatments for ankle / heel bursitis may include footwear correction. Get well-fitting, soft-backed (or even open-backed whenever possible) shoes for both day to day wear and exercise. High-heels should really be a no no or worn sparingly, ladies. Heel protectors. Heel pads and heel lifts are great simple solutions to cushion and protect the Achilles area from the irritation of the shoes. Orthotics. There are various orthotic devices out there (some only available over-the-counter). One example is a custom arch suppport. These can control abnormal motion in your feet by lining them up correctly in your shoes to help you move in the right matter so the bursitis heals faster and does not return back again. Exercise modification Stretch your heel, mainly Achilles tendon, frequently, particularly before and after excercise or prolonged sitting. If you are a jogger, try to run on softer surfaces (no hard concrete, please). Running uphill training is best to be avoided by Achilles and retrocalcaneal bursitis sufferers.
To prevent bursitis of the heel in the first place, always keep proper form during exercise. In addition, don?t jump into exercises that are too intense without building up to them. Strengthen and flex your ankle.