What is Achilles bursitis?
The Achilles tendon is the large tendon that attaches the calf muscles to the heel bone. Do not confuse the Achilles tendon with the Peroneal Tendon. Retrocalcaneal bursitis, commonly known as Achilles bursitis, is a very common condition in athletes. A bursa is a small sack of fluid that sits between the calcaneus, or heel bone, and the Achilles tendon to help the tendon move smoothly over the bone. Laying between the heel bone and Achilles tendon, the retrocalcaneal bursa can become inflamed with repeated trauma. Achilles bursitis can often be mistaken for Achilles tendinitis and when a patient exhibits Achilles tendinitis and Achilles bursitis together, it is known as Haglund’s syndrome.
What causes Achilles Bursitis?
The most common cause of Achilles
bursitis is overuse, typically from too much running, walking, or jumping, but
can also occur traumatically. The risk for developing Achilles bursitis is
heightened from a sudden increase in activity levels without prior substantial
Achilles Bursitis is also a
secondary injury associated with conditions such as:
- Achilles Tendonitis
- Plantar Fasciitis
- Heel Spurs
- Rheumatoid Arthritis
What are the symptoms of Achilles Bursitis?
The most commonly reported symptom
of Achilles bursitis is pain at the back of the heel that is increased when
running uphill or running on soft surfaces. Some patients complain about pain
worsening while standing on tiptoes. The back of the heel may be sensitive and
tender to the touch and swelling may be observed.
How is Achilles Bursitis Diagnosed and Treated?
A physician will diagnose Achilles Bursitis
following an examination and sometimes an x-ray. X-rays do not diagnose tendon
bursitis, but they do rule out other pain causing ailments such as a fracture
or form of arthritis. Always see an orthopedic physician for any foot and ankle pain you may have. Physicians will
typically recommend conservative treatment such as rest, ice, and
anti-inflammatory medication. A steroid injection can also be administered by
your physician to reduce inflammation in the retrocalcaneal bursa. Your
orthopedic physician may also place the foot in a cast and in rare instances ,
surgery may be required to remove the affected bursa.
If you suspect you may have achilles bursitis, please
schedule an appointment with an AOA Orthopedic Foot and Ankle Specialist!