During contraction of the calf muscle, tension is placed through the Achilles tendon and this rubs against the retrocalcaneal bursa. Compressive forces and friction may also be placed on the
retrocalcaneal bursa during certain ankle movements or by wearing excessively tight shoes. When these forces are excessive due to too much repetition or high force, irritation and inflammation of the
bursa may occur. This condition is known as retrocalcaneal bursitis.
The retrocalcaneal bursa can become inflamed as the result of another condition, such as damage to the Achilles tendon, osteoarthritis, rheumatoid arthritis, gout, and pseudogout. In these instances,
the treatment for bursitis must accompany treatment for the underlying condition. Septic retrocalcaneal bursitis, which is caused by an infection, is uncommon. Infection can reach the bursa through a
cut, puncture, a blister, or even an insect bite. It is possible to have septic bursitis without an obvious opening. In these cases the superficial wound may have healed quickly, but still allowed
bacteria into the bursa.
Retrocalcaneal bursitis is very similar to Achilles bursitis as the bursae are very close in proximity and symptoms are almost identical however retrocalcaneal bursitis is a lot more common. The
symptoms of bursitis vary depending on whether the bursitis is the result of injury or an underlying health condition or from infection. From normal overuse and injury the pain is normally a constant
dull ache or burning pain at the back of the heel that is aggravated by any touch, pressure like tight shoes or movement of the joint. There will normally be notable swelling around the back of the
heel. In other cases where the bursa lies deep under the skin in the hip or shoulder, swelling might not be visible. Movement of the ankle and foot will be stiff, especially in the mornings and after
any activity involving the elbow. All of these symptoms are experienced with septic bursitis with the addition of a high temperature of 38?C or over and feverish chills. The skin around the affected
joint will also appear to be red and will feel incredibly warm to the touch. In cases of septic bursitis it is important that you seek medical attention. With injury induced bursitis if symptoms are
still persisting after 2 weeks then report to your GP.
Medical examination is not necessarily required in light cases where the tenderness is minimal. In all cases where smooth improvement is not experienced, medical attention should be sought as soon as
possible to exclude a (partial) rupture of the Achilles tendon or rupture of the soleus muscle. This situation is best determined by use of ultrasound scanning, as a number of injuries requiring
treatment can easily be overlooked during a clinical examination (Ultrasonic image). Ultrasound scanning enables an evaluation of the extent of the change in the tendon, inflammation of the tendon
(tendinitis), development of cicatricial tissue (tendinosis), calcification, inflammation of the tissue surrounding the tendon (peritendinitis), inflammation of the bursa (bursitis), as well as
Non Surgical Treatment
Other than rest, once the diagnosis of heel bursitis (Achilles bursitis, Retrocalcaneal bursitis) has been confirmed then your treating doctor will either generally recommend one or more of the
following, Pain killers. Non steroid anti-inflammatory medication. A cortisone steroid injection. Surgery in extreme cases. Whilst the above may be beneficial for some people, others unfortunately
will not be suitable for such heel bursitis treatments. This may be for several reasons such as having already tried these medications with little to no benefit or not being able to take these type
of medications due to pre-existing medical conditions or alternatively some individuals may just prefer to avoid painful injections or strong medications and instead use a natural heel bursitis
Bursectomy is a surgical procedure used to remove an inflamed or infected bursa, which is a fluid-filled sac that reduces friction between tissues of the body. Because retrocalcaneal bursitis can
cause chronic inflammation, pain and discomfort, bursectomy may be used as a treatment for the condition when it is persistent and cannot be relived with other treatments. During this procedure, a
surgeon makes small incisions so that a camera may be inserted into the joint. This camera is called an arthroscope. Another small incision is made so that surgical instruments can be inserted to
remove the inflamed bursa.