What is Bursitis?
Bursitis is a condition that is very common. It affects the elbows, knees and heels. Bursitis is when one or more bursae are inflamed. Fluid filled sacs in different areas of the body are known as bursae. The main role for the bursae is to ease friction between the joints and the tendons. Bursae are found in the knees, shoulders, hips and the elbows. They can be very painful and tender.
When bursitis occurs in the feet, it is generally from overuse or from trauma. Overuse causes the bursa to be inflamed, for example carrying out an activity over a period of time with repetitive action. People of any age can suffer from bursitis but the chance of developing it rises with age. Other conditions such as arthritis, diabetes, tendonitis or gout could also be the cause. Bursitis in the heel is from one or two bursae becoming inflamed near the Achilles tendon. In a lot of cases, treating bursitis at home with anti-inflammatory medication, using ice packs and plenty of rest is enough to be pain free.
The problem arises if the bursitis becomes chronic. Complications such as tendon damage, restricted movement and loss of strength in the tendon can occur. If a bursa is infected then antibiotics are required to treat it. Chronic bursitis may need cortisone injections into the bursa and physical therapy.
There are 2 types of bursitis in the foot.
Posterior Achilles tendon bursitis: This type of bursitis affects the bursa that is positioned amongst the Achilles tendon and the skin. Young women tend to suffer from this more. It generally happens because a shoe is rubbing against the heel, causing the bursa to become inflamed.
Anterior Achilles tendon bursitis: The Achilles tendon goes between the heel and the calf. It is the biggest tendon in the body. When the Achilles tendon is overused then the bursa at the place where the tendon joins to the heel could become inflamed.
Symptoms of Bursitis
There are many symptoms of bursitis, such as swelling, redness, warmth, stiffness and pain in the heel. If the bursa becomes infected then the skin could feel warm when touched and you may have a fever.
Diagnosing Bursitis in the foot
A podiatrist will examine the foot to rule out any other causes. The symptom of bursitis are not very precise. Other conditions could have the same symptoms. If a physical examination isn’t enough to diagnose bursitis and its symptoms then an MRI scan (magnetic resonance imaging) is used. Generally a physical examination is enough for a diagnosis. If there is inflammation present then blood tests will be carried out to check for other conditions like arthritis. An aspiration test may also be carried out, this is when fluid from the bursa that is inflamed is removed using a syringe. This is then sent off to be analysed and to help diagnose the cause.
Bursitis can be treated at home by taking anti-inflammatory medication such as ibuprofen to ease inflammation and pain. Using R.I.C.E (Rest, ice, compression and elevation). Also using a brace or splint could help take some of the pressure off the inflamed bursa. Resting especially between activities that worsens the bursitis will help.
In chronic bursitis where home treatments are not working, other treatments you could try are physical therapy and cortisone injections. Physical therapy helps to strengthen muscles to stop bursitis from developing again. Cortisone injections are given into the heel sac. This is given by a podiatrist in a clinic. This injection reduces inflammation swiftly.
An infected bursa is known as a septic bursitis. This is when the fluid inside the sac has an infection in it and will need to be drained. Antibiotics are then used to treat this infection. In severe cases a bursectomy has to be carried out, an operation to remove an infected bursa surgically.
We offer a variety of treatments for foot bursitis, please contact us on 0800 1953440 to book an appointment.