Achilles tendon bursitis occurs mainly in young women but can develop in men. Walking in a way that repeatedly presses the soft tissue behind the heel against the stiff back support of a shoe can
cause or aggravate the bursitis. Shoes that taper sharply inward toward the posterior heel (such as high-heeled shoes) can cause irritating pressure that leads to the development of this bursitis.
Normally, only one bursa is in the heel, between the Achilles tendon and the heel bone (calcaneus). This bursa may become inflamed, swollen, and painful, resulting in anterior Achilles tendon
bursitis. Abnormal pressure and foot dysfunction can cause a protective bursa to form between the Achilles tendon and the skin. This bursa may also become inflamed, swollen, and painful, resulting in
posterior Achilles tendon bursitis. Any condition that puts extra strain on the Achilles tendon can cause anterior Achilles tendon bursitis. Injuries to the heel and diseases such as rheumatoid
arthritis can also cause it.
Pain at the posterior heel or ankle is most commonly caused by pathology at either the posterior calcaneus (at the calcaneal insertion site of the Achilles tendon) or at its associated bursae. Two
bursae are located just superior to the insertion of the Achilles (calcaneal) tendon. Anterior or deep to the tendon is the retrocalcaneal (subtendinous) bursa, which is located between the Achilles
tendon and the calcaneus. Posterior or superficial to the Achilles tendon is the subcutaneous calcaneal bursa, also called the Achilles bursa. This bursa is located between the skin and posterior
aspect of the distal Achilles tendon. Inflammation of either or both of these bursa can cause pain at the posterior heel and ankle region.
Limping. Decreased movement. Your ankles may feel stiff or unable to move as well as they usually do. Pain or tenderness in the back of the ankle. It may be worse at the beginning of exercise, or
when running uphill. You may also have pain when wearing shoes. Redness and warmth. If the bursa is infected, the skin over the heel may be red and warm. You may also have a fever. Swelling on the
back of the heel.
Medical examination is not necessarily required in light cases where the tenderness is minimal. In all cases where smooth improvement is not experienced, medical attention should be sought as soon as
possible to exclude a (partial) rupture of the Achilles tendon or rupture of the soleus muscle. This situation is best determined by use of ultrasound scanning, as a number of injuries requiring
treatment can easily be overlooked during a clinical examination (Ultrasonic image). Ultrasound scanning enables an evaluation of the extent of the change in the tendon, inflammation of the tendon
(tendinitis), development of cicatricial tissue (tendinosis), calcification, inflammation of the tissue surrounding the tendon (peritendinitis), inflammation of the bursa (bursitis), as well as
Non Surgical Treatment
Gradual and progressive stretching of the Achilles tendon. Exercises to strengthen and support the ankle. Rest or reduced weight bearing activities. Immobilisation in a cast for 4-6 weeks for severe
cases. Ice. Proper fitting and supportive footwear. Massage. Joint mobilisation. Anti-inflammatory medications: only if this does not have adverse results with the patient's current medication. Heel
pads and heel lifts. Footwear Advice. Strapping and padding Orthoses/innersoles. The orthotics prescribed and designed by the podiatrists at the Heel and Arch Pain Clinic (affiliated with Beyond
Podiatry) are made to align the foot in the correct posture. Surgery is indicated in severe cases when conservative treatment has not resolved the problem.
Surgery is rarely need to treat most of these conditions. A patient with a soft tissue rheumatic syndrome may need surgery, however, if problems persist and other treatment methods do not help