In your calf at the back of the lower leg sit two major muscles (gastrocnemius and soleus), both held by the Achilles tendon (Equinus). Between the Achilles tendon and the heel bone is a bursa sac
called a retrocalcaneal bursa ('calcaneus' = 'heel bone' and 'retro' = 'behind'). During contraction of the calf muscles, the Achilles tendon rubs against the retrocalcaneal bursa, which can become
irritated as a result.
Bursitis of the Achilles tendon is caused by the irritation and inflammation of the retrocalcaneal bursa, a small fluid-filled sac located in the back of the ankle that acts as a cushion and
lubricant for the ankle joint. Possible causes of Achilles tendon bursitis include aging, Factors related to the aging process, including the onset of rheumatoid arthritis and gout, can deteriorate
the bursa. Overuse of ankle. Excessive walking, uphill running, jumping, and other aggressive exercise regimens, especially without proper conditioning, can cause irritation to the bursa. Trauma.
Sudden injury to the ankle joint, or trauma caused by rigid or improperly fitted shoes, can increase the chances of developing bursitis.
Your feet are extremely resilient and are designed to stand up to the pressures of day-to-day living. In some cases, though, foot structures may break down when subjected to chronic stress associated
with prolonged periods of weight-bearing activity on concrete, asphalt, or other hard surfaces (especially when your footwear does not allow for appropriate weight distribution). Foot problems,
including infracalcaneal bursitis, are often exacerbated by poorly designed footwear, and pressure, impact, and shear forces can damage your feet over time. Bursal sacs are intended to minimize this
damage, but sometimes the bursa itself becomes inflamed.
After you have described your foot symptoms, your doctor will want to know more details about your pain, your medical history and lifestyle, including whether your pain is worse at specific times of
the day or after specific activities. Any recent injury to the area. Your medical and orthopedic history, especially any history of diabetes, arthritis or injury to your foot or leg. Your age and
occupation. Your recreational activities, including sports and exercise programs. The type of shoes you usually wear, how well they fit, and how frequently you buy a new pair.
Non Surgical Treatment
The most important factor in healing bursitis is resting your foot and ankle. This can be difficult when you have to carry on with daily activities, but resting and elevating your foot whenever you
can is recommended. During your recovery you will probably have to modify or avoid the activities that stress your bursa until your pain and inflammation settle.
Surgery. Though rare, particularly challenging cases of retrocalcaneal bursitis might warrant a bursectomy, in which the troublesome bursa is removed from the back of the ankle. Surgery can be
effective, but operating on this boney area can cause complications, such as trouble with skin healing at the incision site. In addition to removing the bursa, a doctor may use the surgery to treat
another condition associated with the retrocalcaneal bursitis. For example, a surgeon may remove a sliver of bone from the back of the heel to alter foot mechanics and reduce future friction. Any
bone spurs located where the Achilles attaches to the heel may also be removed. Regardless of the conservative treatment that is provided, it is important to wait until all pain and swelling around
the back of the heel is gone before resuming activities. This may take several weeks. Once symptoms are gone, a patient may make a gradual return to his or her activity level before their bursitis
symptoms began. Returning to activities that cause friction or stress on the bursa before it is healed will likely cause bursitis symptoms to flare up again.