A bursa is a closed, fluid-filled sac that functions as a cushion and gliding surface to reduce friction between tissues of the body. The major bursae are located adjacent to the tendons near the
large joints, such as in the shoulders, elbows, hips, and knees. When the bursa becomes inflamed, the condition is known as bursitis. Bursitis is usually a temporary condition. It may restrain
motion, but generally does not cause deformity.
Retrocalcaneal bursitis is generally caused by local trauma from poorly designed shoes. Patients complain of posterolateral heel pain and may have a posterior heel prominence (?pump bump?), as well
as local swelling and tenderness over the Achilles tendon. Pain is increased by squeezing the bursa from side to side and anterior to the Achilles. A heel lift and open-back shoes help alleviate
Pain in the heel, especially with walking, running, or when the area is touched. Pain may get worse when rising on the toes (standing on tiptoes). Red, warm skin over the back of the heel.
Gram stain. A lab test called a Gram stain is used to determine if certain troublesome bacteria are present. Not all bacteria can be identified with a Gram stain, however, so even if the test comes
back negative, septic bursitis cannot be completely ruled out. White blood cell count. An elevated number of white blood cells in the bursa's synovial fluid indicates an infection. Glucose levels
test. Glucose levels that are significantly lower than normal may indicate infection.
Non Surgical Treatment
Despite appropriate physiotherapy management, some patients with retrocalcaneal bursitis do not improve adequately. When this occurs the treating physiotherapist or doctor can advise on the best
course of management. This may include further investigations such as an ultrasound, X-Ray, MRI or CT scan, pharmaceutical intervention, corticosteroid and anaesthetic injection into the
retrocalcaneal bursa, draining of the bursa, or review by a specialist or podiatrist who can advise on any treatment that may be appropriate to improve the condition.
Surgery to remove the damaged bursa may be performed in extreme cases. If the bursitis is caused by an infection, then additional treatment is needed. Septic bursitis is caused by the presence of a
pus-forming organism, usually staphylococcus aureus. This is confirmed by examining a sample of the fluid in the bursa and requires treatment with antibiotics taken by mouth, injected into a muscle
or into a vein (intravenously). The bursa will also need to be drained by needle two or three times over the first week of treatment. When a patient has such a serious infection, there may be
underlying causes. There could be undiscovered diabetes, or an inefficient immune system caused by human immunodeficiency virus infection (HIV).
Maintain proper form when exercising, as well as good flexibility and strength around the ankle to help prevent this condition. Proper stretching of the Achilles tendon helps prevent injury.