Bursitis of the heel is a condition that's characterised by inflammation of the bursa, which is a small fluid-filled pocket located just under your Achilles tendon. The role of the bursa is to prevent friction around your heel bone and protect the surrounding muscles and tendons. It can become inflamed when you overexert or put too much stress on your heel, and it commonly occurs in those who over-train or increase the intensity of their training too quickly. Here's an overview of the symptoms and treatment options for bursitis of the heel:
Bursitis of the heel typically causes visible inflammation around the affected heel, and the heel may appear red and feel warm to the touch. You'll experience heel pain, particularly if any pressure is applied to it such as when you play sport or even just take a gentle walk. In some cases, you'll develop a hard lump on your heel, which can make wearing shoes uncomfortable. Additionally, the inflammation can limit your ability to flex your foot and cause your muscles to tighten.
A podiatrist at a place like Dapto Podiatry Clinic will diagnose bursitis of the heel by examining your foot and taking details of your symptoms. They may observe you walking and may arrange diagnostic imaging, such as an X-ray or MRI, to confirm their diagnosis and assess the degree of damage caused by the inflammation. The goal of treatment is to alleviate your pain and improve your range of movement by reducing the inflammation. Your podiatrist will formulate a treatment plan based on your specific symptoms, and treatment can include the following:
- Rest - Initially, you should rest the affected foot to prevent any further irritation and encourage the swelling to come down. You won't have to stay off the foot altogether, but you should refrain from strenuous or high-impact activities. As the inflammation comes down, the circulation to your foot will improve, and this encourages healing by providing your soft tissues with oxygen and nutrients.
- Medication - Your podiatrist may recommend a short course of painkillers or anti-inflammatory medication if you have severe pain. You should always get your doctor's approval before taking any new medication.
- Exercises - Your podiatrist will show you some exercises you can do each day at home. Gentle, targeted exercises can promote recovery and improve flexibility by loosening tight muscles and tendons.
- Orthotics - Your podiatrist can measure you for custom-made orthotic insoles, which can be used to reduce inflammation by taking the pressure off your heel. They offer additional support and alter the way your weight is distributed across your feet, giving your heel the opportunity to recover.
If you're experiencing heel pain or inflammation, schedule an appointment with your podiatrist for a thorough foot exam.