Bursitis: Increasing the Friction

When you move, your body has to absorb friction between the bones, soft tissues, and where the two meet. The amount of friction may not be much, but over time, it could be enough to cause damage. That is why your body has multiple structures to keep you moving smoothly. These tissues, however, can still be susceptible to injury, creating painful problems like bursitis.

Trouble with Friction

One of the structures your body uses to protect itself from joint friction and the pressure from hard impacts on the ground is the bursa. These fluid-filled sacs serve as pads between your bones, tendons, and muscles around the joints. They keep the movement of your skeleton from rubbing against soft tissues and causing damage.

Unfortunately, sometimes the friction from the bones and soft tissues can irritate the bursa itself. The sac then becomes painfully inflamed, making it uncomfortable to put pressure against it. This condition is bursitis. Frequently repetitive motions or minor injuries are the most common culprits for the problem, though trauma and infections can also lead to the issue. As the affected bursa becomes more aggravated, you typically develop stiffness and pain when you try to move that joint. Usually the area is also somewhat sensitive to pressure. It may appear swollen and red. The discomfort will increase when you are active and decrease when you rest.

The Risks

The older you are and the more preexisting conditions you have in your lower limbs, the more vulnerable you are to bursitis in your feet or ankles. The shape of your foot may play a role as well; bony bumps or foot structures that increase pressure on the heel or forefoot can contribute to an aggravated bursa. The most common place for this to occur is in the back of the heel, between the heel bone and your Achilles tendon. This called retrocalcaneal bursitis. You can inflame the bursa in other areas, however—the ball of the foot, where your metatarsals meet your toes, is another high-risk location.

Treating the Problem

Since this is considered an overuse injury, you need active treatment to relieve the pain and restore your joints to normal. Our expert team here at NorthPointe Foot & Ankle will carefully examine your foot to make an accurate diagnosis. Once we rule out other possible causes for your discomfort, we can use targeted treatment to heal your irritated bursa.

You will need to rest the affected foot for a while to allow the bursa to heal. Continuing to be active will only aggravate the sac further. Icing the damaged joint will help decrease inflammation and manage the pain. We may recommend anti-inflammatory medication as well. Adjusting footwear to minimize the strain on the foot may help also. Physical therapy to loosen up the stiffness around the joint and strengthen the other tissues in that area can minimize the pain. Only very rarely is surgery used to treat this condition.

It is not normal for your feet to hurt when you are active. That is your body’s way of warning you that structures are damaged. Rather than trying to push through the pain, contact our team of specialists in Berkley, MI. You can reach NorthPointe Foot & Ankle by calling (248) 545-0100 or by submitting the online request form.