Bursitis is defined as inflammation of a bursa. Humans have approximately 160 bursae. These are saclike structures between skin and bone or between tendons, ligaments, and bone. The bursae are lined
by synovial tissue, which produces fluid that lubricates and reduces friction between these structures.
A bursa acts as a cushion and lubricant between tendons or 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. It is where the large Achilles tendon connects the calf muscles to the heel bone. Repeated or too much use of the ankle can cause this bursa to become irritated
and inflamed. Possible causes are too much walking, running, or jumping. This condition is usually linked to Achilles tendinitis. Sometimes retrocalcaneal bursitis may be mistaken for Achilles
tendinitis. Risks for this condition include starting an aggressive workout schedule, or suddenly increasing activity level without the right conditioning.
Achiness or stiffness in the affected joint. Worse pain when you press on or move the joint. A joint that looks red and swollen (especially when the bursae in the knee or elbow are affected). A joint
that feels warm to the touch, compared to the unaffected joint, which could be a sign that you have an infection in the bursa. A ?squishy? feeling when you touch the affected part. Symptoms that
rapidly reappear after an injury or sharp blow to the affected area.
Diagnosis is first by clinical suspicion of symptoms. This can be mistaken for gout or infection especially in the big toe region. A diagnosis of bursitis is usually used in combination of the
underlying cause, for instance a bunion deformity, Haglund's deformity, or Heel Spur Syndrome. Many times the cause needs to be addressed to rid the problem of bursitis.
Non Surgical Treatment
All types of bursitis often can be successfully managed non-surgically, and possible treatments include use of ice packs or compressive dressings, activity modification that may reduce stress or
irritation, administration of nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) or antibiotics, corticosteroid injections (knee and elbow), stretching exercises, and/or change of footwear (heel). Surgery
may be required in patients whose symptoms remain following these treatments and in certain situations when infection is involved.
After taking a history and performing a physical examination, your physician may order x-rays to rule out other disorders. Your doctor may administer injections of corticosteroids and a local
anesthetic to reduce swelling and ease pain. Also, to reduce swelling, your physician may draw excess fluid from the bursa with a syringe and then tightly wrap and compress the joint with an elastic
bandage. In severe, persistent cases surgery to remove the bursa may be necessary. For infectious bursitis, antibiotics will be prescribed.