Retrocalcaneal bursitis is medical speak for heel swelling or heel inflammation. Considering our heels are often the first part of our body that strikes the ground with each step, it’s easy to see how heel swelling and inflammation can be a painful condition to deal with on a daily basis. In today’s blog, we take a closer look at the mechanism behind the injury and talk treatment options.
How Retrocalcaneal Bursitis Develops
Retrocalcaneal bursitis sets in when the bursae near your heel become inflamed. Your bursae are small fluid-filled sacs that help lubricate the area and foster healthy movement in the joint. The bursae in your heels lie behind your Achilles tendon, above where the tendon attaches to your heel bone. Swelling and inflammation of these sacs can lead to heel swelling and sensitivity.
These bursae can become inflamed due to a number of different causes, but likely the most common is overstress and overuse. Athletes, runners and dancers are all prone to retrocalcaneal bursitis, but sometimes it is misdiagnosed as Achilles tendinitis. Being overweight or wearing ill-fitting shoes can also increase your risk of developing the condition. That’s why it’s so important to get an accurate diagnosis from a foot and ankle specialists.
Symptoms and Treatment
The most common symptoms associated with retrocalcaneal bursitis is pain and discomfort in the area, especially when pressure is applied to the area. Other symptoms include:
Visible or noticeable swelling in the heel
Calf pain or discomfort
Limited range of motion and flexibility in the area
Retrocalcaneal bursitis is diagnosed with a physical examination of the area and a discussion about your symptoms. Your doctor may order imaging tests to rule out a fracture or larger deformity, or they may order a fluid sample collection if they believe the pain is being caused by an infection. Most people do not need these extra tests, but they can help rule out more serious problems.
Retrocalcaneal bursitis, when caught early enough, tends to respond well to conservative treatment. Your doctor will likely recommend a combination of RICE, which stands for Rest, Ice, Compression and Elevation. They may also ask you to back off certain activities or to switch you into a more comfortable and protective footwear option. These typically help to reduce symptoms and are easy enough to do on your own if the condition returns at a later date. However, more people who actively protect the area and give it time to heal can fully put the problem behind them.
So if you have been dealing with heel swelling and pain, consider syncing up with Dr. Silverman to see what he can do for you. For more information, or to set up an appointment, give his office a call today at (952) 224-8500.