Bursitis

Inflaming Joint Cushions

All moving machine parts have to be well-oiled and protected to prevent damage. Grinding and friction in moving parts can wear them down and eventually keep them from moving at all. The joints in your body are much like moving pieces in a machine. Every part has to be well-cared for to function at its best. Bursitis is a painful overuse problem in a joint’s cushioning that can make moving your foot very uncomfortable for you.

Injury to Joint Cushions

Bursitis develops in the bursa sacs. These small, fluid-filled sacs act like cushions in your joints. They provide a padded, slippery, smooth surface to prevent moving parts from rubbing against things moving in the opposite direction, or not at all. You can find these cushions in joints all over. In your feet, you can have a bursa in several places, including between your Achilles tendon and your heel bone.

Unfortunately, although these little sacs are designed to relieve pressure and friction around joints, sometimes they can suffer injuries as well. Bursitis is a painful problem that develops when a bursa becomes inflamed. Typically bursitis in the foot is the result of too much repetitive motion in the affected area. A tight Achilles that pinches and rubs the bursa against the heel bone can contribute to the problem in the back of the foot. While overuse is the most common culprit overall, trauma from a sudden injury can be an underlying cause as well.

Signs and Symptoms

woman holding back of heel

Since bursitis develops around an active joint, it can make movement in your feet very painful. The area around the irritated and inflamed bursa typically swells and may feel warm to the touch. You may notice the skin appears red as well. The discomfort will feel worst when you’re active and improve somewhat when you rest. Unfortunately, it can be hard to tell if you have bursitis or tendonitis—especially when your heel is affected—since they can feel similar. Because these conditions effect different physical structures, it’s important to know your specific condition to get the appropriate treatment.

How to Handle and Heal Bursitis

Our team at Gulf South Foot & Ankle, LLC will carefully evaluate your lower limbs to determine the exact cause of your discomfort, and identify how serious it is. Like most overuse injuries, bursitis tends to get worse unless it is treated. Once we’ve diagnosed inflammation in a bursa, we’ll work with you to determine the best plan to treat the problem and restore your lower limbs.

The most important steps to healing bursitis involve alleviating the inflammation. Typically this involves treatments like the RICE method: rest, ice, compression, and elevation. Stop all painful activities for a time and rest your foot. Ice the uncomfortable area to decrease inflammation. Keep your foot elevated and consider wearing a compression bandage to discourage swelling, too.

Once the painful irritation in the bursa has been alleviated, you’ll need to take steps to reduce the overuse and prevent the problem from reoccurring. This may include making shoe changes or using orthotics to reduce strain and overuse in your lower limbs. You might need physical therapy, too, to stretch out tight tissues and help your feet avoid overwork issues.

The key to dealing with bursitis is to acknowledge the pain isn’t normal and getting appropriate foot care. Our experts at Gulf South Foot & Ankle, LLC will help you take care of your lower limbs and every part of your foot joints. Don’t wait until you’re limping or held back from your activities to take care of your feet. Contact us today for an appointment. You can reach our Metairie, LA, office by calling (504) 708-4810 or by using the web request forms.

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SAT 9:00AM - 12:00 Noon

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