As is the case with the knee or elbow, the foot also has a bursa to pad the ankle joint. A bursa, or a fluid-filled sac, can be found behind the heel bone that acts as a cushion and a lubricant between muscles and tendons sliding over bones in this area. Repetitive or over use of the ankle can cause the bursa to become inflamed or irritated leading to heel bursitis. The condition is often mistaken for Achilles Tendonitis. Symptoms include pain in the heel, especially when walking, running, or jumping or when the area is touched. The skin around the back of the heel may be red and warm to the touch, and the pain may worsen when standing on tiptoe or when climbing stairs. It is commonly seen in people who are just starting an aggressive exercise routine, or have changed to a flatter style of shoe. Since bursitis is typically just an inflammation of the bursa, conservative treatments can often resolve the problem once diagnosed.
Brandt R Gibson, DPM
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Podiatrist, Neuropathy Doctor, Father of 11 and Founder of Mountain West Foot & Ankle Institute