During contraction of the calf muscle, tension is placed through the Achilles tendon and this rubs against the retrocalcaneal bursa. Compressive forces and friction may also be placed on the
retrocalcaneal bursa during certain ankle movements or by wearing excessively tight shoes. When these forces are excessive due to too much repetition or high force, irritation and inflammation of the
bursa may occur. This condition is known as retrocalcaneal bursitis.
Bursitis is commonly caused by overuse and repeated movements. These can include daily activities such as using tools, gardening, cooking, cleaning, and typing at a keyboard. Long periods of pressure
on an area. For example, carpet layers, roofers, or gardeners who work on their knees all day can develop bursitis over the kneecap. Aging, which can cause the bursa to break down over time. Sudden
injury, such as a blow to the elbow. Bursitis can also be caused by other problems, such as arthritis or infection (septic bursitis).
Posterior heel pain is the chief complaint in individuals with calcaneal bursitis. Patients may report limping caused by the posterior heel pain. Some individuals may also report an obvious swelling
(eg, a pump bump, a term that presumably comes from the swelling's association with high-heeled shoes or pumps). The condition may be unilateral or bilateral. Symptoms are often worse when the
patient first begins an activity after rest.
Plain radiographs of the calcaneus may reveal a Haglund deformity (increased prominence of the posterosuperior aspect of the calcaneus). However, on weight-bearing lateral radiographs, the
retrocalcaneal recess often appears normal even in patients with retrocalcaneal bursitis, limiting its usefulness in making this diagnosis.Radiographs may be used as a diagnostic measure to support a
clinician?s diagnosis of retrocalcaneal bursitis. Individuals with retrocalcaneal bursitis may have an absence of the normal radiolucency (ie, blunting) that is seen in the posteroinferior corner of
the Kager fat pad, known as the retrocalcaneal recess or bursal wedge. This may occur with or without an associated erosion of the calcaneus.
Non Surgical Treatment
If you follow these steps, most attacks of bursitis should subside in four or five days and all symptoms should be gone within two weeks. Rest the body part that hurts. If you suspect that one
activity has caused the pain, stop it until the pain is entirely gone. A sling, splint, or padding may be needed to protect the area from possible bumps or irritation. Try over-the-counter pain
relievers. Nonprescription NSAIDs (aspirin, ibuprofen, and naproxen) will help reduce pain and swelling, though they won?t accelerate healing. Acetaminophen will help with pain but it doesn?t reduce
inflammation. Ice it, then heat it. Apply ice packs during the first two days to bring down swelling. Then use heat-warm baths or a heating pad (on a medium or low setting)-to ease pain and stimulate
blood flow. Don?t push it. Resume exercising only after you feel better. Start with gentle activity. Skip the liniments. Liniments and balms are no help for bursitis. Liniments don?t penetrate deeply
enough to treat bursitis, they mainly warm the skin and make it tingle, thus distracting attention from the pain beneath. Massage is likely to make matters worse. Undergo physical therapy. Physical
therapy strengthens joint muscles that have been affected by bursitis and may help prevent the bursitis from getting worse.
Surgery. Though rare, particularly challenging cases of retrocalcaneal bursitis might warrant a bursectomy, in which the troublesome bursa is removed from the back of the ankle. Surgery can be
effective, but operating on this boney area can cause complications, such as trouble with skin healing at the incision site. In addition to removing the bursa, a doctor may use the surgery to treat
another condition associated with the retrocalcaneal bursitis. For example, a surgeon may remove a sliver of bone from the back of the heel to alter foot mechanics and reduce future friction. Any
bone spurs located where the Achilles attaches to the heel may also be removed. Regardless of the conservative treatment that is provided, it is important to wait until all pain and swelling around
the back of the heel is gone before resuming activities. This may take several weeks. Once symptoms are gone, a patient may make a gradual return to his or her activity level before their bursitis
symptoms began. Returning to activities that cause friction or stress on the bursa before it is healed will likely cause bursitis symptoms to flare up again.
Because many soft tissue conditions are caused by overuse, the best treatment is prevention. It is important to avoid or modify the activities that cause problems. Underlying conditions such as leg
length differences, improper position or poor technique in sports or work must be corrected. Be aware of potential overuse or injury in your daily activities and change your lifestyle to prevent
problems. Otherwise, problems may persist or occur repeatedly. Following are some ways you can avoid future problems. Wear walking or jogging shoes that provide good support. High-top shoes provide
support for people with ankle problems. Wear comfortable shoes that fit properly. Wear heel cups or other shoe inserts as recommended by your doctor. Exercise on level, graded surfaces.