People put grease between moving parts to help lubricate them so they move smoothly instead of grinding together. You don’t use grease inside your body to protect your own moving parts, but that doesn’t mean your body doesn’t create lubricants. You have bursae to help with that. Sometimes, however, a bursa can develop bursitis and be the source of your foot pain.
Understanding the Bursa
A bursa is a fluid-filled sac that sits between your bones and either tendons or muscles around joints, acting as a lubricating cushion so these structures don’t damage each other with friction. You have these all over your body in specific places. In your feet, you have one behind your heel, sitting in between your Achilles tendon and your calcaneus, or heel bone. Other places they appear include the ball of the foot and around the big toe. Even though the sac is designed to reduce friction, excessive or repetitive pressure can inflame it, causing pain. This is usually the result of overuse and repeated movements.
Developing the Problem
Many conditions or outside forces can exert pressure on a bursa and create bursitis. Overuse from exercising or pounding the ground while playing sports can do this. Suddenly increasing your workouts or starting an activity your feet weren’t conditioned for are common culprits for the condition. Too much jumping, running, or even walking may contribute to the issue as well.
As your bursa grows more and more irritated, you develop pain around it. Usually the discomfort will worsen when you’re active and improve with some rest. The affected area may appear red and feel warm to the touch. Often it’s swollen and tender. Your foot may feel stiff and difficult to use. Since this is an injury from overuse and repeated movements, it won’t improve on its own. You’ll need to invest in your recovery to eliminate the pain.
Relieving the Inflammation
Fortunately, bursitis is usually very receptive to conservative treatment methods. Dr. Darren Silvester will carefully examine your foot to determine exactly what structures are affected and what may have contributed to the problem. Our staff may use tests and possibly diagnostic images to rule out other conditions that have similar symptoms. Once we have confirmed the problem, we can begin treatment.
You need to eliminate the inflammation and swelling in the bursa so it can heal. Resting the foot is a vital part of this. You need to limit, or temporarily cut out, all hard impact sports or activities, particularly if they cause pain. Stick to low-impact exercising for a little while. Physical therapy stretches relax the tendons or other tissues that may be contributing to your discomfort. Ice your foot and keep it elevated to help alleviate the irritation, too. We may recommend anti-inflammatory medications for you, particularly if your pain is stubborn.
Most likely you will need to change your shoes or add orthotics to alleviate the pressure on your feet. Wear models that have cushioned soles and plenty of arch support, without being too tight in the heel. Custom orthotics can help accommodate any biomechanical issues that may play a role in your discomfort. As your foot recovers, you’ll be able to begin re-conditioning your lower limbs to handle strenuous activity.
Bursitis is a painful problem that can interrupt your life and make participating in your favorite activities more uncomfortable. Don’t wait until you’re limping to seek help. Contact Dr. Darren Silvester at Next Step Foot & Ankle Clinic in Universal City, TX, for more information. Make an appointment to take care of your uncomfortable feet by calling (210) 375-3318.