Heel Bursitis: The Other Heel Pain

Have you noticed that your favorite shoes are suddenly unwearable; your heel is red and tender and hurts when you go up on your toes; you can’t work out or even flex your ankles without wishing you hadn’t?  It’s time to call your podiatrist.

Chances are good that you have bursitis, an inflammation of the bursa, a fluid-filled sac that cushions and lubricates a joint when it moves.  This condition is often confused with Achilles tendinitis, an inflammation of the tendon that connects your calf to your heel.  If the pain is above the heel it’s probably tendinitis; if it’s at the heel it’s probably bursitis (and if at any time you feel a sudden snap at the back of your heel go to the doctor immediately—your Achilles tendon may have ruptured).

Bursitis often flares up in joints that do a lot of repetitive-motion work: shoulder, knee, hip, elbow—and heel. You actually have two bursas at the back of each foot, both of them at the spot where the Achilles tendon meets the heel.  Fortunately, bursitis generally responds well to simple, noninvasive treatments: icing the heel several times a day; taking non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs such as ibuprofen; cushioning your heel with heel wedges, and physical therapy if recommended by your podiatrist. If it doesn’t get better your doctor may also give you a steroid injection, and if you still need relief he or she may recommend draining the bursa, or in the most extreme cases, surgery to remove the bursa entirely.

You can keep heel bursitis at bay by wearing shoes that fit right and have good arch support, and by doing regular stretching exercises so your ankles and Achilles tendons stay strong and flexible. And talk to a doctor about the best ways to keep your feet fit and healthy.  The medical staff at the Triad Foot & Ankle Center’s three locations are knowledgeable in treating the full range of foot and ankle issues. Call 336-375-6990 to schedule your appointment or visit our website www.triadfoot.com  to request an appointment.

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