Infracalcaneal bursitis can significantly affect your quality of life and your ability to perform your activities of daily living, due to pain and impaired gait. Inflammation of the bursal sac under
your heel bone occurs because the bursa is abnormally stressed or strained in some way or bears excessive pressure for prolonged periods. Constant pressure and friction from footwear is a common
cause of this health problem, and any treatment plan addressing infracalcaneal bursitis should include recommendations for footwear to avoid or use. Infracalcaneal bursitis may be diagnosed in
several ways, including palpation, or light pressure applied to your affected area. If your heel pain has existed for an extended period, X-ray imaging studies may reveal localized calcification in
your infracalcaneal bursa, though this is not always the case. MRI images are sometimes used as a diagnostic tool for this health problem, though MRI studies are considered unnecessary for diagnosis
in many cases.
The most common causative organism is Staphylococcus aureus (80% of cases), followed by streptococci. However, many other organisms have been implicated in septic bursitis, including mycobacteria
(both tuberculous and nontuberculous strains), fungi (Candida), and algae (Prototheca wickerhamii). Factors predisposing to infection include diabetes mellitus, steroid therapy, uremia, alcoholism,
skin disease, and trauma. A history of noninfectious inflammation of the bursa also increases the risk of septic bursitis.
Posterior heel pain is the chief complaint in individuals with calcaneal bursitis. Patients may report limping caused by the posterior heel pain. Some individuals may also report an obvious swelling
(eg, a pump bump, a term that presumably comes from the swelling's association with high-heeled shoes or pumps). The condition may be unilateral or bilateral. Symptoms are often worse when the
patient first begins an activity after rest.
Before making a diagnosis of retrocalcaneal bursitis, a doctor must rule out other possible problems, such as arthritis, a fracture or tumor. A doctor also will try to determine if the Achilles
tendon itself is a source of pain. To make a diagnosis, a doctor will use some or all of the diagnostic tools below Patient interview. A doctor will ask a patient about medical history, and to
describe the onset of his or her symptoms, the pattern of pain and swelling, and how symptoms affect lifestyle. For example, doctors may ask patients what types of shoes they wear and what they do
for exercise. A patient's reported symptoms are important to diagnosis and treatment. The doctor will also ask what home treatments have helped the condition. Physical exam. A doctor will examine the
patient's foot, noting swelling, tenderness and pain points, and range of motion. The doctor also may ask the patient to point and flex the feet and stand on his or her toes.
Non Surgical Treatment
Rest and apply cold therapy or ice. Ice should not be applied directly to the skin as it may cause ice burns but wrap in a wet tea towel. Commercially available hot and cold packs are often more
convenience than using ice. Taping the bursa with a donut shaped pad to take some of the pressure from footwear may help. A doctor may prescribe anti-inflammatory medication e.g. ibuprofen to reduce
the pain and inflammation. Applying electrotherapy such as ultrasound may reduce inflammation and swelling. A steroid injection followed by 48 hours rest may be given for persistent cases. If the
bursitis is particularly bad and does not respond to conservative treatment then surgery is also an option.
Only if non-surgical attempts at treatment fail, will it make sense to consider surgery. Surgery for retrocalcanel bursitis can include many different procedures. Some of these include removal of the
bursa, removing any excess bone at the back of the heel (calcaneal exostectomy), and occasionally detachment and re-attachment of the Achilles tendon. If the foot structure and shape of the heel bone
is a primary cause of the bursitis, surgery to re-align the heel bone (calcaneal osteotomy) may be considered. Regardless of which exact surgery is planned, the goal is always to decrease pain and
correct the deformity. The idea is to get you back to the activities that you really enjoy. Your foot and ankle surgeon will determine the exact surgical procedure that is most likely to correct the
problem in your case. But if you have to have surgery, you can work together to develop a plan that will help assure success.