Heel pain comes in many forms. Although plantar fasciitis is the most famous and most common reason, it’s by no means the only one. One often-overlooked heel pain condition is bursitis. Although you may be more familiar with this condition in a shoulder, elbow, hip, or knee joint, it can also affect the heel and can cause significant stiffness, swelling, and pain.
When Joint Cushioning Goes Bad
Bursae are specialized fluid-filled sacs that are present in and around many of your body’s major joints. These sacs act as both a cushion and a lubricant, allowing tendons, muscles, and bones to glide and slide freely without painful friction. Each heel naturally contains one such sac, the retrocalcaneal bursa, between tendon and bone at the point where the Achilles inserts into the heel bone.
Unfortunately, certain medical conditions, injuries, or repetitive stresses can cause inflammation in a bursa. An underlying case of arthritis or certain foot shapes may ultimately be at fault, and those who suddenly increase the intensity of their physical activity are also at increased risk.
Possible symptoms may include:
- Pain in the heel, especially during walking or other activities. Pain may be worse when walking on tiptoes and may cause limping.
- Reddish, warm, tender skin
Healing a Bulging Bursa
Once our office makes a positive diagnosis of heel bursitis, we’ll start you off on a treatment program. The good news is that many cases (although not all) can be relieved through a combination of good old-fashioned rest and some conservative treatments.
For starters, if your problem is related to certain repetitive activities (like running, for example), you should avoid them for a time and rest. Over-the-counter anti-inflammatories and icing can help you recuperate at home, too.
When it comes to more advanced treatments, our office is equipped with a wide array of the latest technologies and therapies to help with your stubborn heel pain. These include:
- Extracorporeal shockwave therapy (ESWT) – the most successful non-invasive heel pain treatment overall for those who qualify. It uses pulses similar to sound waves to safely and painlessly stimulate your own natural healing processes during a roughly 20-minute session, improving blood and nutrient flow to the swollen bursa.
- Platelet-Rich Plasma (PRP) Therapy – a treatment where we draw a small amount of blood and place it into a centrifuge to separate out the platelets (one of the components of blood, along with red and white blood cells and plasma) and increase their concentration. The platelet-rich plasma is re-injected into the injury site to encourage faster healing.
Depending on your circumstances, other tools or treatments may help. For example, if you have a fundamental foot deformity that predisposes you to putting extra strain on the bursae, you could benefit from heel wedges, custom orthotics, or other inserts that help you protect sensitive tissues. Every case is different, and you can be sure our patient and caring staff will take the time to carefully evaluate your condition, speak with you about your goals and needs, and develop a treatment plan that is specially tailored for you.
So don’t wait any longer than you have to! Trust Dr. Corey Fox and the heel pain experts at Massapequa Podiatry Associates to help you overcome your bursitis pain. You can request an appointment via our convenient online form, or you can give us a call at 516-541-9000.