In your heel, there is a sac filled with fluid known as a bursa. It is located under your Achilles tendon at the back of your heel bone. Many of your large joints have a bursa around them. They provide cushioning and lubrication for the tendons, muscles and bone. Bursitis of the heel occurs when the bursa in your ankle becomes swollen.
Age. Bursitis is more common during middle age due to repetitive activities that put wear and tear on the body over time. Certain activities or occupations. If your job or hobby involves repetitive motion or puts pressure on bursae, you have a higher likelihood of developing bursitis. Reaching overhead, leaning elbows on arm rests, crossing your legs, laying carpet, setting tile, gardening, biking, playing baseball and ice skating are some activities that, when repeated very often, can put you at increased risk of developing bursitis. Sports in which you may get hit in the knee or fall to the knees, such as football, can also increase the risk. Some medical or health conditions. Rheumatoid arthritis, osteoarthritis, gout, thyroid disease, diabetes, alcoholism and some immunosuppressive disorders can increase the risk of bursitis. The reasons can vary, from cartilage breakdown around joints (arthritis) to crystals in the bursa that cause inflammation (gout). Wearing high heels. Posterior Achilles tendon bursitis occurs when the bursa located between the skin and the Achilles tendon (the band of tissue that attaches the calf muscle to the heel bone) becomes inflamed. High heels are often to blame for this, the stiff heel can put direct pressure on the bursa between the skin and the Achilles tendon.
Limping. Decreased movement. Your ankles may feel stiff or unable to move as well as they usually do. Pain or tenderness in the back of the ankle. It may be worse at the beginning of exercise, or when running uphill. You may also have pain when wearing shoes. Redness and warmth. If the bursa is infected, the skin over the heel may be red and warm. You may also have a fever. Swelling on the back of the heel.
Careful examination by your physician or physiotherapist can determine if the inflammation is from the Achilles tendon or from the retrocalcaneal bursa. Tenderness due to insertional Achilles tendinitis is normally located slightly more distal where the tendon inserts into the back of the heel, whereas tenderness caused by the retrocalcaneal bursa is normally palpable at the sides of the distal Achilles tendon. Diagnosis can be confirmed with an ultrasound investigation, MRI or CT scan.
Non Surgical Treatment
The following exercises are commonly prescribed to patients with retrocalcaneal bursitis. You should discuss the suitability of these exercises with your physiotherapist prior to beginning them. Generally, they should be performed 2, 3 times daily and only provided they do not cause or increase symptoms. Your physiotherapist can advise when it is appropriate to begin the initial exercises and eventually progress to the intermediate, advanced and other exercises. As a general rule, addition of exercises or progression to more advanced exercises should take place provided there is no increase in symptoms. Move your foot and ankle up and down as far as you can go without pain and provided you feel no more than a mild to moderate stretch. Repeat 10, 20 times provided there is no increase in symptoms. Move your foot and ankle in and out as far as you can go without pain and provided you feel no more than a mild to moderate stretch. Repeat 10, 20 times provided there is no increase in symptoms. Move your foot and ankle in a circle as large as you can go without pain and provided you feel no more than a mild to moderate stretch. Repeat 10, 20 times in both clockwise and anticlockwise directions provided there is no increase in symptoms. Calf Stretch with Towel. Begin this stretch in long sitting with your leg to be stretched in front of you. Your knee and back should be straight and a towel or rigid band placed around your foot as demonstrated. Using your foot, ankle and the towel, bring your toes towards your head as far as you can go without pain and provided you feel no more than a mild to moderate stretch in the back of your calf, Achilles tendon or leg. Hold for 5 seconds and repeat 10 times at a mild to moderate stretch provided the exercise is pain free.
Surgery is rarely need to treat most of these conditions. A patient with a soft tissue rheumatic syndrome may need surgery, however, if problems persist and other treatment methods do not help symptoms.