Achilles BursitisAchilles bursitis, also known as retrocalcaneal bursitis, is a common condition in athletes. A bursa is a small sack of fluid that goes between a tendon and a bone to help the tendon move smoothly over the bone. The retrocalcaneal bursa lies between the Achilles tendon and the calcaneus (heel bone). With repeated trauma the bursa can become inflamed. It can often be mistaken for Achilles tendonitis. When a patient has Achilles tendonitis and Achilles bursitis at the same time, it is known as Haglund's syndrome.
Achilles Bursitis CausesThe major cause of Achilles bursitis is overuse, most likely from too much walking, running or jumping. It's no wonder that Achilles bursitis is especially common in athletes. A sudden increase in activity level without proper conditioning can increase a patient's risk for Achilles bursitis.
Achilles Bursitis SymptomsThe most common symptom of Achilles bursitis is pain at the back of the heel, especially when running uphill or on soft surfaces such as sand. Pain may get worse when standing on tiptoes. The area may also feel tender when touched, and some patients report that the heel may feel "spongy". Some swelling may also be observed.
Achilles Bursitis TreatmentAs with any injury, your doctor will be the best source of advice on the appropriate treatment method for your situation. Typical treatment of Achilles bursitis starts by resting the foot and avoiding activities that cause pain. Applying ice for cold therapy can also alleviate pain and swelling. Patients may also take anti-inflammatory medications, such as ibuprofen or aspirin. A heel support such as DonJoy Silicone Heel Cups may be used for added comfort when walking. Symptoms will usually clear up after several weeks.
If these Achilles bursitis treatments do not work, a physician may use a steroid injection to reduce inflammation in the retrocalcaneal bursa. This is followed up by rest, as the bursa may rupture, especially if the injection is given more than once. The doctor may also place the foot in a cast, especially if the patient has Achilles bursitis in conjunction with Achilles tendonitis. In rare cases, surgery may be needed to remove the affected bursa.