Heel Pain: Heel Bursitis

Let’s break down the word bursitis; you may be realising there’s a trend for pathologies ending with “-it is” meaning inflammation of that specific word. So the site in question this time is called a Bursa. When it becomes inflamed, we call it bursitis. You may have heard in the past referred to as policeman’s heel.

Bursae are fluid filled sacs that can be found around most large joints. For this common heel pain, as you’ve rightly predicted it is located in the ankle very close to the Achilles tendon.  This Achilles tendon connects the calf muscles to the heel bone known as the calcaneus. But why is there a bursa there? The bursa acts a lubricant that enables muscles and tendons to easily slide on bone. A heel bursa can be thought of as a cushion.

Cushions are comfortable so why does a heel bursa become painful? A heel bursa can become irritated from increased overload of activity. Generally this activity is repetitive in nature such as walking, running and jumping. Once irritated the bursa becomes inflamed. Now we have a case of heel bursitis.

Heel Bursitis can be deep or superficial depending on location. If the bursae is located between the Achilles tendon and the calcaneus bone, it would be considered as deep. This type of bursitis is known as sub-tendinous calcanea bursa. The superficial bursa would be positioned between the skin and Achilles tendon and is otherwise called subcutaneous calcanea bursa.

The symptoms associated to heel bursitis are redness, warmth and tenderness. Tip-toe standing is known to elicit the pain further more than general walking, running and jumping. Heel pain can be uncomfortable and disrupt your daily activities.

DG Podiatrist feels it is essential to thoroughly assess the ankle and heel. Once the assessment is complete, you will be given a set on manageable treatment plan targets to utilise in order to resolve the condition. The treatment plans will be explained in great depth.