Bursitis of the heel is a condition in which the bursa–a fluid-filled sac located on the back of the heel bone–begins to swell due to overuse or injury. This condition is quite common in people who engage in excessive running, jumping, or walking, and can cause pain and redness in the affected area. Patients may also experience pain when standing on their tiptoes, or when bending the ankle upward (known as “dorsiflexion”). If you’ve been suffering with symptoms of bursitis in the heel, your podiatrist may recommend one or more of the following treatments:
- Taking anti-inflammatory, non-steroidal medications (e.g., Ibuprofen).
- Icing the heel on a regular basis.
- Avoiding the activities that cause or tend to aggravate the pain.
- Undergoing physical therapy in order to strengthen the ankle and improve flexibility.
- Using ultrasound therapy, which creates sound or pressure waves that penetrate beneath the surface of the skin to stimulate and create a relaxing and massaging effect on the tissues of the heel.
- Relieving pressure from the bursa through a process known as aspiration, in which excess fluid is removed via a needle and syringe.
- Using corticosteroid injections, which are designed to provide immediate relief and reduction of swelling in the affected area. If this treatment option is chosen, you will probably have to remain immobile for a period of time in order to protect the Achilles tendon from injury.
No matter which treatment you choose to go with, it’s important for you to take it easy and wait for the pain and swelling to completely subside before resuming any heavy physical activity. If you try to do too much too soon before the bursitis is healed, you could very likely re-aggravate the injury, which will put you right back at square one. The best approach is to gradually work your way back to normal, so that you can avoid any bursitis symptoms from flaring up again.