Retrocalcaneal Bursitis Symptoms and Treatments

Retrocalcaneal bursitis refers to the inflammation of a bursa between your heel bone and Achilles tendon. It causes severe pain and swelling. Here are the best treatment options.

Retrocalcaneal bursitis, which is sometimes also referred to as 'Achilles tendon bursitis', is a common issue most athletes face at some stage in life.  It is more common in runners because they put severe pressure on their ankles. Many people mistake it for Achilles tendonitis, but it's different; however, you may have retrocalcaneal bursitis with Achilles tendonitis. It is important to pay attention to the symptoms to be able to identify an appropriate heel bursitis treatment. Keep reading to learn everything about Achilles bursitis and the ways to resolve it effectively.

Retrocalcaneal Bursitis Symptoms

A bursa, a small sac filled with fluid, is located between a bone and a tendon to facilitate movement of the tendon over the bone. The retrocalcaneal bursa, located between the heel bone and the Achilles tendon, works in the similar fashion. Sometimes repeated trauma to the bursa can lead to inflammation and pain, which makes you look for a heel bursitis treatment.

Once your retrocalcaneal bursa is inflamed, you will notice several symptoms, such as pain at the back of your heel, which aggravates while running uphill. You will also notice swelling and tenderness close to your heel. You may also be able to feel a spongy resistance when pressing the back of your heel with your fingers. The skin over your heel will become red and feel warm to touch.

Even if you think the pain is a bit manageable, you should still go see your doctor if you are noticing symptoms of retrocalcaneal bursitis. Your doctor will consider your medical history and look for specific sings of retro calcaneal bursitis to confirm the real cause of pain. The doctor may bend your ankle upward to see how it feels. If you your pain aggravates, this could be a sign that your retrocalcaneal bursa is inflamed. It is usually enough to look for these signs to confirm the underlying cause of pain, but sometimes, your doctor may ask for imaging tests, such as MRI and x-rays.

Retrocalcaneal Bursitis Causes

You may end up developing Achilles bursitisfor many different reasons. The most common cause is the repetitive or excessive use of your ankle in certain sports. This pressure leads to the irritation and inflammation of the retrocalcaneal bursa that acts as a lubricant between tendons and bones. This could be the result of too much running, walking, or jumping. You may also develop this condition if you follow an aggressive workout schedule with little rest between sessions – you may also experience pain in your heel if you increase your activity level without spending enough time in conditioning your body.

To keep yourself from dealing with this condition, it is better to take steps to avoid it from happening in the first place. The most important thing is to maintain proper form while exercising. You should also include exercises to improve your flexibility and strength around your ankle area. Learn to stretch your Achilles tendon to help prevent this injury.

Retrocalcaneal Bursitis Treatment

1.        RICE Method

You should use the RICE formula to improve your injury. It means you should take plenty of rest and take a break from the activity that has caused the injury in the first place. Use ice to reduce swelling and pain. Try an elastic medical bandage that you have to wrap around your ankle and heel to keep it compressed. This will help reduce swelling to some extent. Finally, make certain arrangements to keep your leg elevated – sit on the floor with your foot placed on a stool.

2.        Painkillers and Heel Wedges

Taking abovementioned steps will help with pain management in Achilles bursitis, but you may sometimes have to take non-steroidal anti-inflammatory medications (ibuprofen etc.) to control pain. Using OTC heel wedges in your shoes may also regulate pressure on your heel.

3.        Physical Therapy

Sometimes, you also need to go for physical therapy to improve the strength and flexibility of your ankle. You can start with simple exercises. Stand in front of wall with your foot placed firmly on the floor. Slowly lean toward the wall to stretch your muscles in the ankle and feet. Keep leaning forward until you feel some stretch. Hold this position for 60 seconds and return to the starting position. Here are the stretches to do and to avoid for Achilles tendinitis:

4.        Injection

If this doesn't improve your condition, you may consider taking an injection that injects steroid medicine into your bursa.

5.        Other Treatment Options

In addition to regular treatment options, your doctor may take specific measures to improve your condition.

  • Changing your footwear is one good way of accelerate healing. You may consider using an open-backed shoe to exert minimum pressure on the affected heel. If your symptoms are the outcome of wearing high heels, you may switch to flat shoes to improve your condition.
  • Sometimes, it really helps to cut away a small portion of the heel of your shoe and replace it with some kind of soft leather insert to minimize friction.
  • Your doctor may also suggest micro current therapy if other treatment options aren’t proving that effective. This therapy will help you to manage your heel pain better. The research suggests that using micro current therapy in addition to traditional treatments proves extremely effective, which is mainly due to the use of secondary messengers, such as cyclic adenosine monophosphate.

So, discuss all these retrocalcaneal bursitis treatment options with your doctor to identify the most suitable one for your condition. 

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