You do not have a single body part that isn’t vulnerable to at least some kind of medical condition or illness, even ones that are intended for protection. Bursae are not commonly known, but they are protective mechanisms in your body that sometimes suffer from a condition called bursitis.

Bursa: Natural Cushioning for Your Joints

A bursa is a fluid-filled sac that cushions the tissue found near various joints, like tendons, muscles, and bones. These valuable sacs reduce the friction between moving parts in order to help facilitate movement in your joints. Bursae (plural) can be found in your shoulders, elbows, hips, knees, and feet. Our office often treats this condition when it happens in the big toe and heel areas.

Bursitis develops when bursae become inflamed. It is often noted as causing an achy, stiff sensation, and the area may look red and swollen. This ailment is often accompanied by foot pain or discomfort when an affected area experiences pressure.

Causes for Inflammation in Bursae

There are various causes for bursitis, but repetitive movement is the primary culprit. A common example is when the condition develops at the base of the big toe as a result of walking or running many miles. For every five miles of walking, it is estimated that you take 10,000 steps. That certainly qualifies as repetitive motion! Fortunately, since walking and running are great forms of exercise, there are prevention measures that can help.

Besides repeated motions, this injury can also result from inflammatory arthritis, infection, improperly-fitting shoes, gout, and injury or physical trauma. Certain people are more likely to be at risk for developing the inflammation, including older individuals and anyone who lives with systematic diseases like diabetes, gout, and rheumatoid arthritis. Having a job that uses repeated movements also will increase the likelihood of this ailment.

Bursitis in the Feet

Given the way that your feet work, there are three main areas where you are likely to develop this condition. It is commonly experienced in the ball of the foot, under the base of the big toe, or in the heel. When you push off the ground with every step, you generate force in the front of your foot and this contributes to the ailment.

There are two forms that can develop in your heel. If the pain you experience is in the bottom of your heel and occurs when you are standing, you likely have calcaneal bursitis. This is frequently associated with excess weight, injury, heel spurs, and shoes that do not fit properly. When your heel pain is in the back and includes painful swelling, you probably have retrocalcaneal bursitis.

Treating Bursitis

When you have pain in your feet, do not ignore it! Your body is indicating that something is wrong and you need to get help. If the problem is pain or discomfort in your heel or the front of your foot, come in to our office for an accurate diagnosis and an effective treatment plan before the condition worsens.

The good news is that conservative, nonsurgical treatment methods are often effective. Such methods are centered on:

  • Resting and immobilizing the area that is causing pain to give your body the time it needs for natural healing processes.
  • Icing the affected area to decrease swelling and inflammation.
  • Using medication to fight an infection when this is the cause of the inflammation.
  • Utilizing physical therapy (after a period of rest) to prevent recurrence.

Preventing Bursae Inflammation

You can decrease the risk of developing this condition by strengthening your muscles, especially those that support your joints, with regular exercise. Adequately warm up and stretch prior to physical activity to prevent injuries, including ones to your bursae. Take breaks by resting or switching to other activities when you are physically active for extended periods of time.

If you feel that bursitis might be the cause of your foot pain, contact Advanced Foot & Ankle Specialists of Arizona at (480) 963-9000.