Everyone knows what arms are. The same goes for hearts, eyes, and skin. There are body parts that are not so commonly known, though—like bursae—and people only become aware of their existence when something goes wrong. Usually, these fluid-filled sacs simply perform their job, but when they become inflamed, it leads to a painful condition we call bursitis. When this happens, you will become quite familiar with your bursae.

Meet Your Bursae

Bursae (singular is bursa) are fluid-filled sacs that provide cushion to your bones, muscles, and tendons near joints. There are several locations for these sacs, including the base of your big toe and in the heel area. They help facilitate movement by reducing the friction that would otherwise occur between moving parts.

Bursitis: Bursa Inflammation

Although there are other causes, this condition is frequently the result of repetitive motion that irritates bursae around a joint. Consider the fact that the health community encourages people to take 10,000 total steps (approximately five miles of walking) a day for physical health. When your feet perform these repeated actions, it is easy to understand why you may develop this condition in the base of your big toe or by your heel.

In addition to repetitive motion, this condition can also be caused by infection, improperly-fitting shoes, and trauma or injury to the affected area. It is more likely to be experienced by those who are older, have a job that requires repeated movements, or have certain systemic conditions and diseases (gout, diabetes, rheumatoid arthritis).

Recognizing Bursitis

When it comes to your feet, there are two primary areas where you may experience the pain and discomfort that lets you know that you have developed this inflammation. As previously mentioned, the base of your toe is one common area where we see this condition.

The other primary location is in your heel. Calcaneal bursitis happens in the bottom of your heel and often causes pain when you are standing. This type is often associated with heel spurs, injury, improperly-fitting shoes, and excess weight. Retrocalcaneal bursitis is observed at the back of your heel and includes painful swelling in the area.

Treatment for Inflamed Bursae

As always, pain in your feet is not something to be ignored. This is your body’s way of telling you that something is not right and, in this case, that means that you have inflammation in a bursa sac. It is important to come into our office for expert help when you experience disabling pain in one of your joints that lasts for an extended period of time. Also, if you have excessive redness, bruising, swelling, or a rash develops in the affected area, give us a call.

Treatment for your condition will be centered on conservative, nonsurgical methods that are typically quite effective. These include:

  • Rest. Give your body time to address the issue on its own by putting your physical fitness program on hold.
  • Ice. Icing is always a valuable tool for reducing the levels of pain and inflammation in an injured area, and it helps for this condition as well.
  • Medication. Since infection is a possible cause of bursitis we may need to prescribe an antibiotic medication to correct the condition.
  • Therapy. Exercises or physical therapy can strengthen your muscles in the affected area. This will help to ease pain, but also serve to prevent recurrence of the condition.

Preventing the Issue

There are measures you can take to decrease your risk of developing inflammation in your bursae. Strengthen your muscles with a regular exercise routine to protect your joints. Prior to exercising, be sure to warm up and stretch to prevent injury. While exercising or on your feet all day, take periodic breaks to give your body a chance to recover.

No matter if you need treatment for an inflamed bursa or simply would like more information on the subject, Foot Specialists of Long Island is here for you. We can help with any foot or ankle condition you may be experiencing, so call our Massapequa, NY office at (516) 804-9038 or use our online form to contact us today.