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Treatment For Bursitis Of The Foot

August 23, 2015
Overview

Bursitis is an inflammation of a bursa. The heel has three areas that are involved in bursitis. Retrocalcaneal Bursa which is located between the Achilles tendon and heel bone. Subcutaneous calcaneal bursa which is located between the skin and where the Achilles tendon attaches to the heel bone. Plantar-calcaneal bursitis is located between the heel bone and the plantar fascia (thick fibrous tissue that inserts into the heel bone).

Causes

Your ankle bursitis may have been caused by one or more of the following Pressure on your ankle and heels. This is often caused by running or exercising on uneven ground. The way that you exercise may also cause ankle bursitis or make it worse. It may be caused by wearing poorly fitting shoes that constantly rub against the heel. Direct, hard hit to your heel. Infection (in-FEK-shun). Medical problems such as rheumatoid (ROO-ma-toid) arthritis (ahr-THREYE-tis) or gout. Overusing your ankles. This is caused by doing activities or sports that use the same motions (movements) over and over again. Examples of repeating motions are running, walking, or jumping. Sometimes people do not know how they developed ankle bursitis.

Symptoms

Symptoms include pain at the back of the heel, especially when running uphill or on soft surfaces. There will be tenderness and swelling at the back of the heel which may make it difficult to wear certain shoes. When pressing in with the fingers both sides are the back of the heel a spongy resistance may be felt.

Diagnosis

When a patient has pain in a joint, a careful physical examination is needed to determine what type of movement is affected and if there is any swelling present. Bursitis will not show up on x-rays, although sometimes there are also calcium deposits in the joint that can be seen. Inserting a thin needle into the affected bursa and removing (aspirating) some of the synovial fluid for examination can confirm the diagnosis. In most cases, the fluid will not be clear. It can be tested for the presence of microorganisms, which would indicate an infection, and crystals, which could indicate gout. In instances where the diagnosis is difficult, a local anesthetic (a drug that numbs the area) is injected into the painful spot. If the discomfort stops temporarily, then bursitis is probably the correct diagnosis.

Non Surgical Treatment

The patient with retrocalcaneal bursitis should be instructed to apply ice to the posterior heel and ankle in the acute period of the bursitis. Icing can be performed several times a day, for 15-20 minutes each. Some clinicians also advocate the use of contrast baths. Gradual progressive stretching of the Achilles tendon may help relieve impingement on the subtendinous bursa and can be performed in the following manner. Stand in front of a wall, with the affected foot flat on the floor. Lean forward toward the wall until a gentle stretching is felt within the ipsilateral Achilles tendon. Maintain the stretch for 20-60 seconds and then relax. Perform the stretches with the knee extended and then again with the knee flexed. To maximize the benefit of the stretching program, repeat the above steps for several stretches per set, several times daily. Avoid ballistic (ie, abrupt, jerking) stretches. Other treatment options are microcurrent therapy and corticosteriod injection into the retrocalcaneal bursa. If conservation treatment fails then surgery is indicated.

Surgical Treatment

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.

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