What is bursitis of the heel? Bursitis, in general, means the inflammation or swelling of a bursa. Bursae are sac-like cavities that secrete small amounts of fluid to lubricate tendons, bones, ligaments, muscles, and skin so they can glide and move more easily. Bursitis of the heel is, therefore, an inflammation of a bursa located in the heel.
There are two bursae located in the heel. These are the retrocalcaneal bursa and the retro achilleas bursa. Either or both can become inflamed and become bursitis.
The retrocalcaneal bursa is located between the calcaneus and the Achilles tendon insertion site. Retrocalcaneal bursitis is often misdiagnosed as Achilles tendonitis and is sometimes referred to as insertional heel pain. Other names used for retrocalcaneal bursitis are anterior Achilles tendon bursitis, Albert’s disease, and trimalleolar bursitis.
Retrocalcaneal bursitis is usually caused by repetitive usage or over exertion of the ankle. It is a condition primarily associated with athletes, individuals beginning a new exercise regime, and sedentary people who suddenly increase their physical activity. It may also be caused by injuries to the heel, such as bruising, and diseases, such as gout and rheumatoid arthritis.
The retro achilleas bursa is located between the Achilles tendon and the skin. This bursa develops after birth, as a response to trauma to soft tissue and the person’s gait. Retrocalcaneal is considered a true bursitis while retro achilleas is superficial. Retroachilles bursitis is also known as posterior Achilles tendon bursitis or Haglund’s disease. However, it should be noted that in Haglund’s disease, there is usually a combination of Achilles tendonitis, retrocalcaneal bursitis and retro achilleas bursitis. Retroachilles is primarily caused by ill-fitting shoes or shoes that taper sharply towards the posterior heel, such as high-heels. Although this type of bursitis mainly occurs in women, men are also susceptible
The symptoms for retro achilleas bursitis and retrocalcaneal bursitis are red, warm, swollen area which is painful when touched. Both types of bursitis have symptoms similar to those of Achilles tendonitis. However, if the retro achilleas (posterior Achilles tendon bursitis) becomes chronic, the swelling may become hard and fluid-filled. The area from the chronic bursitis may be red or flesh-colored.
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