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Mitchell Wachtel D.P.M.

How Bursitis Affects the Feet

Lifting footBursitis is one of those pesky conditions that people often associate with aging. However, anyone of any age can develop this inflammation. Symptoms may range from mild to very severe, and it is important to get treatment as soon as possible to prevent more damage from being done.

What is Bursitis?

This condition involves inflammation of the bursae—small fluid filled sacs that are found where tendons, ligaments, muscles, or bone rub together. They create lubrication to prevent injury, but if they are overused they can become inflamed and cause pain. At first you may notice a dull ache accompanied by tenderness, redness, and even some swelling. If you notice any of these symptoms in your feet, call our office right away. The problem is often confused with tendinopathy, so it is important to determine which condition you might have.

What Can Cause an Inflamed Bursa?

The main cause of bursitis is overuse. Repetitive motions, like those with running, cause the bursae to become irritated and inflamed. If you put too much pressure on certain areas for too long, it can have the same affect. This may be common in people who stand or walk all day at their jobs, or who kneel with their feet bent for long periods of time, such as a gardener. A sudden traumatic injury, such as a car accident or sports injury, may also cause the inflammation to occur.

One of the most common reasons for inflamed bursae is aging. As we get older our skin thins out and the fatty deposits that once acted as protection disappear. This causes our feet to undergo a tremendous amount of pressure and strain that the cushioning sacs can no longer handle.

Treating the Symptoms

The goal of treatment is to reduce your pain. It is important to rest your feet, especially if the reason for your condition is overuse. You can also apply cold packs to reduce swelling and pain. A menthol based cream can also help provide cold therapy if recommended by your doctor.

If you are older you may wish to use foam or gel insoles inside your shoes to provide the cushioning that you once had in your feet. There are certain stretches and exercises you can perform to help strengthen muscles and prevent irritation. Your doctor may also recommend a pain reliever to help with discomfort.

Bursitis can occur in different places in your foot. If the heel is painful, you may wish to wear a heel cup with extra padding. If the pain is worse in the ball of your foot, you can try changing your shoes to a pair that has more room in the toe box. In some cases it may be necessary to undergo corticosteroid injections to help relieve some of the pressure. In extremely severe cases where every other treatment option has been exhausted it may be decided that you are a good candidate for surgery. This means that a bursa is surgically removed.

Getting Professional Help

If you notice symptoms of bursitis, or would like more information on treating or preventing this condition, call Dr. Mitchell Wachtel, podiatrist North Andover, at (978) 794-8406 to schedule an appointment in one of our three conveniently located Massachusetts locations.