Bursitis Can Happen in Your Feet
Did you know you have 160 little fluid-filled sacs all throughout your body? A bursa (plural bursae) lies next to a bone or tendon to decrease friction during movement. While the bursae protect the bones and the tendons, there is nothing to protect them when injury, overuse, or an underlying disease puts too much stress on them. When irritation causes these sacs to swell up and become inflamed, bursitis is the resulting condition.
What Does Foot Bursitis Feel Like?
Many cases of this condition are located at the large joints like the shoulder, elbow, hip, and knee, but they can also occur in your ankles or feet. The Achilles tendon is especially vulnerable to this condition, as well as the bursae in the heel and near your big toe. When they are inflamed, the sacs fill up with more fluid and it’s the pressure against surrounding tissue that brings the pain.
Achilles tendon bursitis will cause discomfort at the back of your ankle. Women develop this condition more often than men, possibly because they wear high heels that dig into the back of their ankles and irritate the tendon. You may also see or feel a small bump between your big toe and second toe, under the ball of your foot, or under your heel. These areas can be tender and painful to the touch.
Treatments for Bursa Pain
It is important to have your foot examined to find out exactly what is causing your pain. At The Plateau Foot & Ankle Clinic, we can determine if the bursae are inflamed and recommend several treatment options. Many times rest and icing help to reduce swelling, and we may prescribe anti-inflammatory pain medications as well. Sometimes we will use a sterile needle and syringe to draw out some of the fluid from the sac. We may at the same time use a cortisone injection, which often reduces the swelling in a short time.
When bursitis is caused by an injury, or an underlying condition such as rheumatoid arthritis, the fluid sac may become infected. This condition needs more aggressive treatment, including antibiotics (sometimes intravenously) and repeated drawing out of the fluid. Preventing the sac from tearing is a high priority, because if the synovial fluid drains from the sac, it will no longer be able to cushion the tendons and bones.
You can help foster the healing process by resting your foot. Choose shoes with good cushioning to help protect the joints, and avoid the movements that caused the irritation until it has healed properly. If you participate in activities that put a lot of stress on your feet, like running or dancing, wear protective footgear and take breaks or alter movements if possible to reduce trauma.
Dr. Howard Schaengold is your source for expert foot care in the Sammamish, Bellevue, Issaquah, and Redmond