Retrocalcaneal Bursitis. This bursa is located at the back of the heel. Bursitis in this area is often associated with conditions such as ankylosing spondylitis or rheumatoid arthritis. It can occur
in healthy individuals who wear improperly fitted shoes. Symptoms include painful swelling that develops at the back of the heel. Calcaneal Bursitis. This bursa is located at the sole or bottom of
the heel. Inflammation usually produces pain in the heel when standing. Causes include heel spurs, excess weight, injury, and wearing improperly fitted shoes.
A bursa is a fluid-filled sac that acts as a cushion and a lubricant between tendons and muscles sliding over bone. There are bursas around most large joints in the body, including the ankle. The
retrocalcaneal bursa is located in the back of the ankle by the heel, where the large Achilles tendon connects the calf muscles to the heel bone (calcaneus). Repetitive or over use of the ankle, for
instance by doing excessive walking, running or jumping, can cause this bursa to become irritated and inflamed. This condition is commonly associated with Achilles tendonitis. Sometimes
retrocalcaneal bursitis may be mistaken for achilles tendonitis. Those at risk for this condition include people just starting aggressive exercise regimens or having some other sudden increase in
activity without proper conditioning.
When the bursa becomes inflamed after an injury, symptoms usually develop suddenly. When the bursa develops without an injury, symptoms may develop gradually. With both posterior and anterior
Achilles tendon bursitis, symptoms usually include swelling and warmth at the back of the heel. A minimally red, swollen, tender spot develops on the back of the heel. When the inflamed bursa
enlarges, it appears as a red lump under the skin of the heel and causes pain at and above the heel. If posterior Achilles tendon bursitis becomes chronic, the swelling may become hard, fluid-filled,
and red or flesh-colored.
After you have described your foot symptoms, your doctor will want to know more details about your pain, your medical history and lifestyle, including whether your pain is worse at specific times of
the day or after specific activities. Any recent injury to the area. Your medical and orthopedic history, especially any history of diabetes, arthritis or injury to your foot or leg. Your age and
occupation. Your recreational activities, including sports and exercise programs. The type of shoes you usually wear, how well they fit, and how frequently you buy a new pair.
Non Surgical Treatment
Despite appropriate physiotherapy management, some patients with retrocalcaneal bursitis do not improve adequately. When this occurs the treating physiotherapist or doctor can advise on the best
course of management. This may include further investigations such as an ultrasound, X-Ray, MRI or CT scan, pharmaceutical intervention, corticosteroid and anaesthetic injection into the
retrocalcaneal bursa, draining of the bursa, or review by a specialist or podiatrist who can advise on any treatment that may be appropriate to improve the condition.
Surgery. Though rare, particularly challenging cases of retrocalcaneal bursitis might warrant a bursectomy, in which the troublesome bursa is removed from the back of the ankle. Surgery can be
effective, but operating on this boney area can cause complications, such as trouble with skin healing at the incision site. In addition to removing the bursa, a doctor may use the surgery to treat
another condition associated with the retrocalcaneal bursitis. For example, a surgeon may remove a sliver of bone from the back of the heel to alter foot mechanics and reduce future friction. Any
bone spurs located where the Achilles attaches to the heel may also be removed. Regardless of the conservative treatment that is provided, it is important to wait until all pain and swelling around
the back of the heel is gone before resuming activities. This may take several weeks. Once symptoms are gone, a patient may make a gradual return to his or her activity level before their bursitis
symptoms began. Returning to activities that cause friction or stress on the bursa before it is healed will likely cause bursitis symptoms to flare up again.
Maintain proper form when exercising, as well as good flexibility and strength around the ankle to help prevent this condition. Proper stretching of the Achilles tendon helps prevent injury.