Retrocalcanceal (heel bone) bursitis is the swelling of the fluid-filled sac (bursa) located at the back of the heel bone. The bursa contains synovial fluid which cushions and lubricates the areas where tendons, muscles, ligaments or bones glide against one another.
There are many bursae located in different joints in the body, such as the shoulder, elbow, hip, knee, ankle, etc. However, there is only one bursa sac in the foot. It is found between the Achilles tendon and the heel bone.
Bursitis can develop suddenly, manifesting as acute or chronic (long-lasting).
Bursitis is common, affecting about 1 in 31 people in the US. It affects both men and women of any age. It is mostly common to people who repeat the same movements continuously (such as runners, basketball players, dancers, etc) and people who put pressure on the ankle joint during sports, daily activities or work.
Causes of Heel Bursitis:
- Overuse of the ankle.
- Repeated daily activities, including but not limited to gardening, climbing stairs, biking, etc.
- Putting pressure on the ankle joint for long periods
- Unforeseen injury to heel or achilles area at the back of the foot
- Wearing tight shoes and shoes with low cut heel counter
Symptoms of Heel Bursitis:
- The appearance of a red, warm skin at the back of the heel
- It causes pain, stiffness and tenderness near the affected bursa.
- Increased pain and discomfort when standing on tip toes
- Excessive pain in the heel especially while walking or running.
Treatment of Heel Bursitis
- Applying R.I.C.E treatment (Rest, Ice, Compress, Elevate). If you notice pain in your muscles or near a joint, apply ice for 15 minutes, twice in an hour for 72 hours.
- Wearing supportive shoes that reduce friction at the heel.
- Wearing orthotics such as a heel insert to provide better mechanics in the foot and reduce irritation.
- Engaging in exercises that stretch the Achilles tendon to reduce the pain.
- Using topical NSAID such as Naprozen or Ibuprofen to reduce the swelling. You can rub NSAID cream over the joint or muscle.
- Using ultrasound treatment during your physical therapy to help reduce the swelling.
- Seeing your Houston podiatrist to drain the fluid and pressure from the swollen bursa.
Heel pain can be caused by a number of different factors, including bursitis, heel spurs, stress fractures, and other causes. If rest and ice don’t decrease pain and swelling within 24-72 hours, call Houston Foot and Ankle Care at (713) 541-3199 to schedule an appointment with foot specialist Gabriel Maislos, DPM, FACFAS. We accept most major forms of medical insurance.
Call (713) 541-3199 if you experience:
- painful swelling behind the heel
- sudden discomfort wearing shoes
- trauma to the back of the heel