What Is Heel Bursitis?
Where the attachment of the Achilles tendon to the heel bone is located there are two bursas (fluid sacs). A deeper one, located between the heel bone and the Achilles tendon, and a more superficial one between the Achilles tendon and the skin. A bursitis of the heel is an inflammation of one of those two bursas.
With bursitis of the heel there are symptoms such as swelling, heat, redness, (pressure) pain and limitation of movement. In the case of superficial bursitis, a red hump may be visible near the attachment of the Achilles tendon to the heel bone.
The superficial bursa of the heel, called bursa subcutanea calcanea, is located between the Achilles tendon and the skin. The deeper bursa of the heel, called bursa retrocalcanea, is located between the Achilles tendon and the heel bone.
How does bursa inflammation of the heel arise?
In most cases heel bursitis will occur gradually. In the superficial bursa an inflammation is often the result of local damage or trauma to the bursa. A good example of this is friction of the shoe rim against the heel, with repeated friction the bursa can become irritated. Inflammation of the deeper bursa is often seen after or during Achilles tendonitis. Swelling of the Achilles tendon compromises the bursa.
The complaints are most commonly seen in the age category 40-60 years and are frequently seen in people who run or do sports that involve a lot of jumping.
Symptoms of bursitis of the heel
With bursitis of the heel there are symptoms such as swelling, heat, redness, (pressure) pain and limitation of movement. In the case of superficial bursitis, a red hump may be visible near the attachment of the Achilles tendon to the heel bone. This hump can feel painful. Wearing closed shoes can also be experienced as painful.
In the case of the deep bursa, the pain can be varied in the case of inflammation. For example, the pain can be felt to the left and right along the Achilles tendon and comes mainly after a hard day's work or sports.
How is heel bursitis diagnosed?
A heel bursitis is generally well diagnosed by a general practitioner or physiotherapist. Additional examinations, such as ultrasound, CT scan or MRI scan, will only be necessary in very few cases to make the diagnosis.
How is heel bursitis treated?
It is important to start treatment on time, preferably under the supervision of the physiotherapist. First of all, the treatment will focus on pain reduction. Dosed rest and cooling of the sore spot is very important.
For the next step in the treatment process, the focus will be on increasing the load capacity. Possible treatment interventions applied by the physiotherapist are massage, stretching, exercise therapy and joint mobilisations.
The prognosis (expectation of recovery) of heel bursitis is generally very good. Often people are able to resume their normal activities within a few weeks. Find out more about Bursitis What It Is and Complementary Treatments here.