Retrocalcaneal bursitis is an inflammation or infection of the bursae at the back of the heel bone. Bursae are fluid-filled sacs that cushion the joints and prevent the bones from becoming injured
due to friction. Because this condition can cause pain and difficulty moving, getting treatment is important. There are several retrocalcaneal bursitis treatment options available. Patients and
physicians should work together to determine the best treatment based on the symptoms and severity of the condition.
Bursitis is commonly caused by overuse and repeated movements. These can include daily activities such as using tools, gardening, cooking, cleaning, and typing at a keyboard. Long periods of pressure
on an area. For example, carpet layers, roofers, or gardeners who work on their knees all day can develop bursitis over the kneecap. Aging, which can cause the bursa to break down over time. Sudden
injury, such as a blow to the elbow. Bursitis can also be caused by other problems, such as arthritis or infection (septic bursitis).
Pain at the back of the heel, especially with jumping, hopping, tip-toeing, walking or running uphill or on soft surfaces. If tendonitis is also present, the pain can radiate away from the bursa.
Direct pressure on the bursa will exacerbate the pain and should be avoided if possible. Tenderness and swelling which might make it difficult to wear certain shoes on the feet. As the bursa becomes
more inflamed you will experience swelling and warmth. In severe cases, the bursa will appear as a bump, called a "pump bump", and is usually red, and extremely tender. Swelling can cause
difficulties moving as the range of motion in the ankle can be affected. Limping due to the pain may occur. If you press on both sides of the inflamed heel, there may be a firm spongy feeling.
Weakness in the tendons and muscles surrounding the bursa can develop as the pain worsens and the inflammation in the area spreads. Possibly a fever if you are suffering from septic bursitis (You
will need to see a doctor for medication to get rid of the infection). Pain at the back of the heel makes it difficult to continue wearing shoes, especially high heels with straps or shoes that don't
The doctor will discuss your symptoms and visually assess the bones and soft tissue in your foot. If a soft tissue injury is suspected, an MRI will likely be done to view where and how much the
damage is in your ankle. An x-ray may be recommended to rule out a bone spur or other foreign body as the cause of your ankle pain. As the subcutaneous bursa is close to the surface of the skin, it
is more susceptible to septic, or infectious, bursitis caused by a cut or scrape at the back of the heel. Septic bursitis required antibiotics to get rid of the infection. Your doctor will be able to
determine whether there is an infection or not by drawing a small sample of the bursa fluid with a needle.
Non Surgical Treatment
If not properly treated, a case of bursitis can turn into chronic bursitis, flaring up on and off for several weeks or longer. Bursitis treatment involves resting the joint, often combined with other
methods to alleviate swelling, including NSAIDs (e.g. Aleve, ibuprofen), icing the joint, elevating the joint, and wrapping the joint in an elastic bandage. Cases of septic bursitis must also be
treated with antibiotics to prevent the infection from spreading to other parts of the body or into the bloodstream.
Continue to wear your orthotics for work and exercise to provide stability and restore foot function. Select suitable shoes for work and physical activity that provide stability for the heel. Regular
stretching of the calf muscle can prevent heel bursitis. Do not suddenly increase activity amount without appropriate conditioning.