Retrocalcaneal bursitis is the painful inflammation and swelling of the retrocalcaneal bursa that is situated between the calcaneus (heel bone) and the Achilles tendon. A bursa is a small fluid
filled sac that forms around joints in areas where there is a lot of friction between muscles, tendons and outcrops of bone. The bursae position themselves in between the tendon or muscle and the
bone, buffering any friction from movement. To picture a bursa imagine it as a very small water filled balloon that sits in places where things rub against each other, such as in between a tendon and
a bone, to provide a soft smooth cushion for the tendon to pass over painlessly. The covering of the bursa also acts as a lubricant and aids the tendon?s movement. It is estimated that there is over
150 bursae in your body which protect the joint and tendons from wear. They are all very small and unnoticeable until they become swollen and painful with bursitis.
Bursitis occurs when the synovial lining becomes thickened and produces excessive fluid, leading to localized swelling and pain. It most commonly affects the subacromial, olecranon, trochanteric,
prepatellar, and infrapatellar bursae. Symptoms of bursitis may include localized tenderness, pain, edema, erythema, or reduced movement. Pain is aggravated by movement of the specific joint, tendon,
The following are the most common symptoms of bursitis. However, each individual may experience symptoms differently. Bursitis can cause pain, localized tenderness, and limited motion. Swelling and
redness may occur if the inflamed bursa is close to the surface (superficial). Chronic bursitis may involve repeated attacks of pain, swelling, and tenderness, which may lead to the deterioration of
muscles and a limited range of motion. The symptoms of bursitis may resemble other medical conditions or problems. Always consult your doctor for a diagnosis.
Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) may demonstrate bursal inflammation, but this modality probably does not offer much more information than that found by careful physical examination. Theoretically,
MRI could help the physician to determine whether the inflammation is within the subcutaneous bursa, the subtendinous bursa, or even within the tendon itself, however, such testing is generally not
necessary. Ultrasonography may be a potentially useful tool for diagnosing pathologies of the Achilles tendon.
Non Surgical Treatment
If not properly treated, a case of bursitis can turn into chronic bursitis, flaring up on and off for several weeks or longer. Bursitis treatment involves resting the joint, often combined with other
methods to alleviate swelling, including NSAIDs (e.g. Aleve, ibuprofen), icing the joint, elevating the joint, and wrapping the joint in an elastic bandage. Cases of septic bursitis must also be
treated with antibiotics to prevent the infection from spreading to other parts of the body or into the bloodstream.
Surgery is rarely done strictly for treatment of a bursitis. If any underlying cause is the reason, this may be addressed surgically. During surgery for other conditions, a bursa may be seen and