Heel pain can also be caused due a condition called Bursitis which is constant irritation of the heel's natural cushion (bursa). This can lead to additional pain at the back of the heel when the ankle is moved and there may be swelling on both sides of the Achilles tendon. Useful treatments for Heel bursitis are anti-inflammatory medications such as aspirin and Ibuprofen gel/tablets. Cold ice-pack compresses can be useful in reducing any swelling. In conjunction to these treatments it is important to stabalise and protect the heel. Gel heel pads will help to let the inflamed bursa settle down, however in severe chronic cases sometimes the use of Cortisone injections may be indicated.
Causes of bursitis can be from any form of friction between bone and the soft tissues. The most common cause is due to abnormal pronation.
When the bursa becomes inflamed after an injury, symptoms usually develop suddenly. When the bursa develops without an injury, symptoms may develop gradually. With both posterior and anterior Achilles tendon bursitis, symptoms usually include swelling and warmth at the back of the heel. A minimally red, swollen, tender spot develops on the back of the heel. When the inflamed bursa enlarges, it appears as a red lump under the skin of the heel and causes pain at and above the heel. If posterior Achilles tendon bursitis becomes chronic, the swelling may become hard, fluid-filled, and red or flesh-colored.
A thorough subjective and objective examination from a physiotherapist may be all that is necessary to diagnose a retrocalcaneal bursitis. Diagnosis may be confirmed with an ultrasound investigation, MRI or CT scan.
Non Surgical Treatment
The most important factor in healing bursitis is resting your foot and ankle. This can be difficult when you have to carry on with daily activities, but resting and elevating your foot whenever you can is recommended. During your recovery you will probably have to modify or avoid the activities that stress your bursa until your pain and inflammation settle.
Surgery is rarely need to treat most of these conditions. A patient with a soft tissue rheumatic syndrome may need surgery, however, if problems persist and other treatment methods do not help symptoms.
You may be able to prevent bursitis from happening or coming back. Continue your home treatment with rest, ice, pain relievers, and gentle exercises. When you are ready to try the activity that caused the pain, start slowly and do it for short periods or at a slower speed. Warm up before and stretch after the activity. Increase your activity slowly, and stop if it hurts. Use ice afterward to prevent pain and swelling. Change the way you do activities with repeated movements that may strain your muscles or joints. For example if using a certain tool has caused bursitis, start switching hands or change the grip size of your tool. If sitting for long periods has caused bursitis, get up and walk around every hour. If a certain sport is causing bursitis, consider taking lessons to learn proper techniques. Have an expert check your equipment to make sure it's well suited to your size, strength, and ability. If certain activities at work may be causing bursitis, talk to your human resources department about other ways of doing your job, equipment changes, or other job assignments. Protect your joints from pressure. Cushion knees or elbows on hard surfaces, and wear shoes that fit you well and have good support.