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What is retrocalcaneal bursitis?

The achilles tendon is the large tendon which joins the muscles of the calf to the heel bone. A bursa is a friction reducing structure that is found between tissues in the body that move over each other. The retrocalcaneal bursa lies between the achilles tendon and the heel bone and allows the achilles tendon to move smoothly, without friction, over the heel bone. Retrocalcaneal bursitis is the inflammation of this bursa. Physiotherapy is an excellent treatment for retrocalcaneal bursitis.

Therapist explaining the pathology of the ankle condition to the clientAbove: Therapist explaining the pathology of the ankle condition to the client

How does retrocalcaneal bursitis happen?

Retrocalcaneal bursitis occurs if increased pressure is placed on the Achilles tendon. This, in turn, increases pressure on the retrocalcaneal bursa. This pressure can cause wear and tear of the bursa causing microtrauma. Over time this can cause thickening of the bursa, inflammation and bursitis. Therefore retrocalcaneal bursitis can be caused by wearing shoes that are excessively tight across the back of the heel. Retrocalcaneal bursitis can also be caused by excessively tight calf musculature and other biomechanical problems.

What are the symptoms of retrocalcaneal bursitis?

Retrocalcaneal bursitis causes pain and swelling over the back of the heel. Additional symptoms may include:

What should I do if I have retrocalcaneal bursitis?

If you suspect that you have retrocalcaneal bursitis, you should avoid activities and footwear which increase your pain and arrange an appointment with a physiotherapist to establish the exact cause. The pain may go away if you rest but, if the cause is not addressed, it is likely that it will return as soon as you return to activity.

What shouldn’t I do if I have retrocalcaneal bursitis?

If you have retrocalcaneal bursitis, you should not continue with activities which aggravate your pain. These will further irritate your bursa and delay your recovery.

Stability training for the foot and ankle supervised by an experienced physiotherapistAbove: Stability training for the foot and ankle supervised by an experienced physiotherapist

Physiotherapy treatment for retrocalcaneal bursitis.

Physiotherapy is important in the treatment of retrocalcaneal bursitis. Your physiotherapist will be able to confirm your diagnosis and determine the cause of the bursal irritation. If you have retrocalcaneal bursitis there are a number of treatment techniques available to reduce your pain. These include: As your pain reduces it is likely that your physiotherapist will provide you with a progressive programme of strengthening exercises. These exercises will help prevent a re-occurrence of your injury when you return to activity.

Could there be any long-term effects from retrocalcaneal bursitis?

Retrocalcaneal bursitis generally settles within a few weeks if appropriately diagnosed and treated settle within a matter of weeks when appropriately diagnosed and treated.

To arrange a physiotherapy assessment call on 0330 088 7800 or book online.

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