What is Achilles Bursitis?
You might be suffering from Achilles bursitis if:
- You have sharp pain at the back of your heel.
- You have lump on the back of your heel.
- You have loss of range of motion walking and the pressure for shoes causes you to limp and you have weakness in your leg.
- You have warmth, redness and swelling on the heel.
If any of those statements are true for you or you're suffering from on-going pain in your heel then you might have an injury called "retrocalcaneal bursitis".
Many people don't know that Achilles bursitis is a very real injury affecting the bursa sac in your ankle. It can happen to anyone who regularly puts stress with repetitive movements as part of your job, sports related activities, acute trama to the ankle/foot and/or aging weakness the tissue around the ankle and the bursa.
Achilles bursitis is one of those injuries that can really bring down the quality of your life. Anyone - young or old - can suffer from this injury, and if you're active this condition will keep you from doing the things you love to do. It will even start interrupting any of your normal daily tasks and make living life harder than it really needs to be.
Fortunately for you, professional athletes have had access to state of the art treatment therapies for years that allow them to heal more quickly and completely than you or I. This is why athletes that have a serious heel bursitis injury can often get back in the game in a matter of weeks while you could suffer for months or even years (in chronic cases).
With some breakthrough products we have engineered, professional treatment is now available to anyone who needs it.
What You Need to Treat Your Bursitis Injury:
- A Professional Cold Compression Freezie Wrap® to reduce inflammation of the muscle tissue (as soon as possible).
- A Deep Tissue Therapeutic Inferno Wrap® to increase Blood Flow Stimulation Therapy™to the injured soft tissue (BFST®).
- A Professional, Minimal Impact Stretching Device, known as the Knee-Flex® to prevent muscle atrophy and gently allow stretching of your affected leg muscles (hip, thigh, Achilles, quadriceps, hamstring, groin, calf, shins, politeus, IT band, etc).
What is Achilles Bursitis?
The most common bursa to be inflamed in the foot is the retrocalcaneal bursa (also referred to as the subtendinous calcaneal bursa). Located between the Achilles tendon and the heel bone (calcaneus), this is a "true" bursa that is present from birth. It acts as a cushion to protect the Achilles tendon from friction against the heel bone. Also commonly affected, the subcutaneous calcaneal bursa (also referred to as the Achilles bursa), located between the Achilles tendon and the skin, sits a little lower down the ankle towards the heel than the retrocalcaneal bursa. This bursa develops as you age, an "adventitious" bursa, to protect the tendon from friction at the back of the heel.
Bursitis occurs when a bursa is irritated from frequent pressure and it becomes inflamed. Due to the location close the Achilles tendon, Achilles bursitis is often mistaken for tendinitis. Achilles bursitis is a common overuse injury in runners, ice skaters and other athletes.
What Causes Achilles Bursitis?
Improper foot wear, tight shoes or shoes that do not fit properly can cause extra pressure and friction on the back of the heel. Overtime, this pressure causes irritation of the bursae that protects the Achilles tendon causing one or both to swell and become inflamed.
Athletes who overtrain or runners that increase their distance to quickly are at greater risk of experiencing Achilles bursitis. With over use, the Achilles bursae and tendon can become irritated and inflamed leading to thickening of the bursae lining and wearing of the tendon. Fluid builds in the bursa when it becomes irritated causing swelling of the Achilles bursa and pain at the back of the heel.
What are the Symptoms of Achilles Bursitis?
Symptoms of Achilles bursitis are often mistaken for Achilles tendinitis because of the location of the pain at the back of the heel. When you suffer from Achilles bursitis you will experience some or all of the following symptoms which are most noticeable when you begin activity after resting.
- Pain at the back of the heel, especially with jumping, hopping, tip-toeing, walking or running uphill or on soft surfaces. If tendonitis is also present, the pain can radiate away from the bursa.
- Direct pressure on the bursa will exacerbate the pain and should be avoided if possible.
- Tenderness and swelling which might make it difficult to wear certain shoes on the feet.
- As the bursa becomes more inflamed you will experience swelling and warmth. In severe cases, the bursa will appear as a bump, called a "pump bump", and is usually red, and extremely tender. Swelling can cause difficulties moving as the range of motion in the ankle can be affected.
- Limping due to the pain may occur
- If you press on both sides of the inflamed heel, there may be a firm spongy feeling.
- Weakness in the tendons and muscles surrounding the bursa can develop as the pain worsens and the inflammation in the area spreads.
- Possibly a fever if you are suffering from septic bursitis (You will need to see a doctor for medication to get rid of the infection).
Pain at the back of the heel makes it difficult to continue wearing shoes, especially high heels with straps or shoes that don't fit properly.
How Do I Diagnose Achilles Bursitis
When you are experiencing Achilles pain at the back of your heel, a visit to the doctor is always recommended. Getting a proper diagnosis is important so you can treat your condition correctly.
To begin with, your doctor will gather a medical history about you and your current condition and symptoms. He/she will inquire about the level of your heel pain, the how long you have had the symptoms and the limitations you are experiencing. Details about what and when the pain started, all are very helpful in providing you with a diagnoses of your ankle / heel.
A physical examination will be performed to determine if you have any signs of Achilles Bursitis or other ankle injury. He/she will look and feel the soft tissue and bones in your ankles to note any differences between the two of them. This will identify any abnormalities, such as swelling, bone deformities, atrophied muscles, redness and/or warmth on the skin. In many cases, the first sign that you have Achilles bursitis is swelling in the back of the foot and ankle pain.
If a soft tissue injury is suspected, an MRI will likely be done to view where and how much the damage is in your ankle. An x-ray may be recommended to rule out a bone spur or other foreign body as the cause of your ankle pain.
As the subcutaneous bursa is close to the surface of the skin, it is more susceptible to septic, or infectious, bursitis caused by a cut or scrape at the back of the heel. Septic bursitis required antibiotics to get rid of the infection. Your doctor will be able to determine whether there is an infection or not by drawing a small sample of the bursa fluid with a needle.
Do You Really Have Achilles Bursitis?
Visiting your doctor when you have Achilles pain is always recommended, as there are many possible issues that can happen within the Achilles and ankle. Sometimes, one set of symptoms can result in multiple diagnoses.
Haglund's Deformity (Haglund's Syndrome) refers to an enlarged boney protrusion on the upper, back part of the heel bone. It is caused by calcification of the heel bone due to the inflammation of Haglund's Syndrome, a combination of Achilles tendinitis and Achilles bursitis. The boney protrusion causes further irritation to the retrocalcaneal bursa and Achille tendon as it presses them between the protrusion and your shoes. This increased irritation than causes Haglund's Syndrome to become worse. Due to similar symptoms and the location in the Achilles tendon area, Haglund's Syndrome is frequently misdiagnosed as Achilles tendonitis.
Achilles tendon strain. Pain along the back of your foot and above your heel, especially when stretching your ankle or standing on your toes. Most strains are mild. The seriousness of the strain will affect your walking. Suddenly increase your activity or warm up improperly can cause an Achilles tendon strain. Trying to go fast, jumping (hurdles), cutting (football) or twisting in the air are just some of the scenarios where you could develop Achilles tendon strain.
Achilles tendonitis. Achilles tendons carry our entire body weight so it makes sense that the Achilles tendon is the thickest, strongest and most powerful tendon in the body. Allowing you to walk, run, jump, or stand on your toes. This is because of the major stresses taken on by this tendon can injure the tissue, overuse or as a result from excessive strain (even a traumatic accident or sudden pop). If you will be suffering from irritation and inflammation in the back of foot - just above the heel. A result of degenerative tears within the tendon itself. These microscopic tears are much akin to a rope that is starting to fray from excessive load.
How Do You Treat Achilles Bursitis?
What You Can Do!
It is important to treat bursitis in the early stages to reduce the symptoms, minimize damage and maintain motion and strength in your foot. Resting your ankle, using proper cushioning, wearing comfortable footwear and reducing any activities that add pressure on your bursa will help to reduce your pain and bursitis inflammation. By treating your Achilles bursitis in the early stages with Freezie Wrap® cold compression therapy and Inferno Wrap® Blood Flow Stimulation Therapy™, you are more likely to prevent long-term damage and chronic conditions from setting in.
Relieving the symptoms of bursitis initially focuses on taking the pressure off the bursa. This can be done with proper cushioning, inserts, or footwear but may require surgery if it is a bone formation problem (i.e. Huglund's Deformity). If your bursitis is caused by an infection (septic bursitis), the doctor will probably drain the bursa sac with a needle and prescribe antibiotics to treat the infection.
For non-infectious bursitis, the preliminary treatment starts with non-operative options such as cold compression therapy and Blood Flow Stimulation Therapy™. Surgery to remove the inflamed bursa is normally not required for bursitis, however if you fail to see improvement with the conservative treatments, your physician may recommend surgery to remove the bursa completely. Although this removes the problem of an inflamed bursa, you are left with less cushioning in your joint which can lead to a host of other conditions.
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.
Treatments should involve decreasing swelling, relieving pain and stress on the Achilles, correcting any biomechanical dysfunction (over-pronation or flat feet), treating scar tissue, and then restoring strength and movement. If you are performing an activity that could cause further trauma to the bursa, it is recommended that you protect the area with padding and/or proper footwear to prevent further irritation or damage.
Other Conservative Treatment Methods can be Risky
In some cases, physicians may recommend drugs or medications like NSAIDs (non-steroidal anti-inflamatory drugs) to manage pain and inflammation. Alternative medications like cortisone injections are NOT advised for any type of Achilles Tendon injury or condition. This is because there is an increased risk of rupture of the tendon following a cortisone injection.
"Medical evidence shows that cortisone shots can damage the surrounding tissue, fray the Achilles tendon, and even trigger a rupture. Most side effects are temporary, but skin weakening (atrophy) and lightening of the skin (depigmentation) can be permanent." (reference: American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons)
Freezie Wrap® Cold Therapy
The R.C.C.E. Treatment Philosophy. This treatment philosophy is used to decrease inflammation and relieve pain of bursitis quickly when it is inflamed and painful.
Rest and limit your activity, to decrease swelling and minimize further inflammation in the subcutaneous calcaneal bursa and/or retrocalcaneal bursa.
- Cool the area of the inflamed bursa to help reduce blood flow and fluid build up.
- Compress the area if possible by adding light pressure to minimize swelling (make sure the wrap is snug, but not too tight as it could cause numbness, tingling or more pain).
- Elevate your foot to relieve the pressure from swelling and allow fluid to drain from your foot.
Applying cold to your inflamed bursa will help decrease the swelling and redness around it. Cold compression therapy will also help to numb the pain in your heel and help to control the inflammation.
Cooling the subcutaneous calcaneal bursa and/or retrocalcaneal bursa as needed throughout the day, for approximately 15 - 20 minutes at a time, is recommended.
The cold compression Freezie Wrap® can be used to apply cold in a safe, convenient and effective way - and the gel pack is reusable. Only the Freezie Wrap® gel pack is charged in the fridge. This means the cooling temperature of the gel pack will not cause cold burns, or cryoburn, on your skin like ice or freezie charged gel packs can. You can also treat yourself for longer periods of time so you get lasting pain relief.
The wrap is soft and adjustable so it fits your foot properly, without irritating the bursa, and allows you to adjust the compression. This is important when treating an inflamed bursa because too much pressure can cause you further pain. You control how much pressure the bursa receives so you can benefit from the compression to hold the cold where you need it, without increasing your pain.
Click here to learn more about Cold Compression Freezie Wraps®
Applying cold to your tender bursa is the first step in treating your bursitis. Next, you can begin using the Inferno Wrap® to accelerate the healing process.
Inferno Wrap® Blood Flow Stimulation Therapy™
Once the inflammation of your bursitis has been reduced with the Freezie Wrap® cold compression therapy treatment it is time to start BFST® treatments with the Inferno Wrap®. Regular treatments with the Inferno Wrap® will improve blood flow and improve the elasticity of your surrounding soft tissue. Your body needs a fresh supply of blood to improve the health of your tissue and get your bursae, plantar fascia, and/or Achilles tendon back to normal.
Unfortunately, when you are suffering from bursitis it is painful to walk and move your ankle normally. When you limit movement in your foot the blood flow is reduced, starving your tissue of the necessary oxygen and nutrients. The trick is to find a way to increase blood flow without causing pain and/or further inflaming the bursae. This is where Blood Flow Stimulation Therapy™ (BFST®) becomes a powerful tool.
BFST® compliments your body's natural healing process by promoting the flow of blood to your foot while you give it the rest it needs. The Inferno Wrap® uses a patented process to generate the same energy that is part of the sun's spectrum of light, the same energy that is necessary to all living things for optimum health.
The energy emitted from the Energy Web® stimulates blood flow to your foot, more than you body would ever be able to generate on it's own, giving your body the boost it needs to continue the reconditioning process.
The healing energy reaches deep into your bursae, tendons, ligaments, and fascia to speed tissue repair, whisk away the toxins and dead cells, and rejuvenate your ankle tissues for improved elasticity.
Click here to learn more about the Inferno Wrap®
With these easy to use home therapy wraps - the Inferno Wrap® and the Freezie Wrap® , you will notice significantly reduced pain and an incredible improvement in your Achilles pain and ankle range of motion.
During your recovery, you may have to modify and/or eliminate any activities that cause pain or discomfort in your Achilles and heel until your pain and inflammation settle, and you gain more mobility and strength. The more diligent you are with your rehabilitation, the faster you will see successful results.