Don’t Let Achilles Bursitis Pain Get You Down
If you love to hit the open road and run for miles, you know how good it can make you feel. It helps you get in shape, gives you cardiovascular benefits, and also releases endorphins in your brain that make you feel more awake, energetic, and happy. You may not feel so well, though, when the stress of overuse causes foot pain. Pain at the back of your heel could be caused by a condition known as Achilles bursitis.
Heel Pain and Your Achilles Tendon
Unlike tendonitis, which involves the Achilles tendon itself, this inflammation occurs in the bursa where the tendon attaches to your heel bone. A bursa is a membrane filled with fluid that acts as a cushion where the bone and tendon join. It reduces the amount of friction that your bone and tendon would otherwise sustain during movement.
Achilles bursitis, also known as retrocalcaneal bursitis, causes pain especially when running uphill or on surfaces that are too soft. You may have swelling at the back of your heel, and the area will be tender. If you pinch the area, you may feel a spongy mass, which is the inflamed sac. It is important to give Aadvanced Foot Care Associates a call for any serious foot pain, so we can diagnose your condition properly and set up a tailored treatment plan.
Start Treating Bursitis Immediately
Your injury will take you through three phases. The acute phase, right after it happens, requires rest from the activity that caused the irritation and icing to reduce swelling. We will show you how to apply an ice pack for 15 to 20 minutes, several times a day. Rest doesn’t mean you can’t stay active by biking or swimming—just don’t run on it.
You may find it too painful to wear your normal shoes during this time, especially those that press in on your heel. Try your most comfortable shoes, or a pair with open backs. If pain persists, we may want to investigate whether there is something else going on, such as a bone spur.
Stretch During Recovery
During the second stage—your recovery period—we may start you on some stretching exercises to condition your Achilles tendon. For example, stand facing a wall, with the affected foot flat on the floor. Keeping your knee straight, lean forward slowly until you feel a gentle pull on the Achilles. Hold for 20 seconds, then relax, and repeat several times. You can also try this with your knee flexed for more of a stretch, but don’t do any abrupt movements and stop if there is any pain. Do a set of stretches several times a day.
Continue the regimen until you are fully healed, adding repetitions and range of motion as tolerated. We will also let you know when you can gradually begin to return to your activity again. The goal is to regain your normal function, but you will jeopardize that if you return to activity too soon. If symptoms and pain do not improve, we may need to consider other treatments, including surgery.
Be Vigilant to Keep Bursitis at Bay
The final stage is the maintenance stage, where you continue with your therapy at home and be on the lookout for any sign that the problem is recurring. When you run, watch for twinges of pain in your heel, and stop and rest if they persist. It is better to nip the problem in the bud by resting for a day or two than to keep running and end up back where you began—with heel pain that sidelines you completely. Try mixing up your exercise routine to reduce the constant stress that running every day puts on your feet.
The podiatrists at Aadvanced Foot Care Associates are experts when it comes to sports medicine. For Achilles bursitis or any other soft tissue injuries, call us in Rego Park, NY, at (718) 896-4433, Flushing at (718) 969-2266, and Plainview at (516) 822-9595. We also have an appointment request online form. With over 100 years of foot care know how, we have what it takes to get you back to top form and enjoying your favorite athletic activities again!