Each heel has a small sack filled with fluid that sits just below the Achilles tendon. The sack, also referred to as a bursa, provides cushioning for the tendons and muscles around your heel and prevents them from rubbing against your heel bone. Bursitis occurs when this fluid-filled sack becomes inflamed from overexertion such as partaking in strenuous workouts or too much running without the right conditioning. Here's what you need to know about bursitis of the heel:
Symptoms of bursitis of the heel include:
- Heel pain that's exacerbated by pressing on your heel or walking
- Your heel may appear red and warm to the touch
- Swelling on the back of your heel with or without a hard lump just below the skin
Your podiatrist will diagnose bursitis of the heel by taking details of your symptoms and examining your heel. They may flex your foot in different directions to establish whether the pain is being caused by another condition such as plantar fasciitis. If the podiatrist thinks something else may be contributing to your heel pain they will arrange for you to have an x-ray or MRI scan, which will show the degree of inflammation and any thickening of the surrounding tissue.
The following treatment options can reduce the inflammation caused by bursitis of the heel and relieve pressure around your heel:
- Rest—You will be advised to take a break from strenuous exercise and rest the affected foot as much as possible, which will reduce the swelling.
- Medication—In cases of severe swelling, your podiatrist may suggest you take anti-inflammatory medication. Always check with your GP before taking this type of medicine as it's not suitable for those with certain medical conditions and can't be taken if you're pregnant.
- Orthotic Insoles—Custom made orthotic insoles can promote healing by relieving pressure on your heel, which will allow the swelling to come down. The insoles change the way your weight is distributed across your feet and cushion your heels. Your podiatrist will measure your feet to ensure the insoles are a good fit and will follow up with you to make sure they are working as they should.
- Exercises—Your podiatrist will teach you some gentle exercises that build flexibility and strength in your foot and can loosen tendons and muscles around your heel that may have tightened as a result of the inflammation. Strengthening exercises can also prevent a recurrence of bursitis of the heel.
As your feet are in use every day, bursitis of the heel tends to worsen if left untreated. If you are experiencing heel pain, schedule an appointment with podiatrists like Galleria Podiatry as soon as possible.