Firstly, what is a bursa and what does bursitis actually mean?
Bursa are found around joints all over the body and they have the role of reducing pressure or rubbing between the different soft tissues such as tendon and bone. This occurs because the bursa are shaped like small balloons filled with fluid which sit directly between these tissues to create a buffer between them.
Know that we know what a bursa is and the role it performs we can understand what bursitis is.
Bursitis is simply a pathology that refers to the bursa becoming aggravated and inflamed due to an increase in friction or pressure.
A person with bursitis in the foot may feel tenderness around a joint and pain when moving it through its range of motion. It will also be uncomfortable to put pressure on when walking and there may be swelling present.
What causes bursitis?
We know that an increase in pressure or friction can aggravate a bursa so therefore there are many contributing factors that may predispose someone to developing bursitis in the foot.
These risk factors include:
- Tight or narrow fitting shoes which constrict the forefoot.
- Shoes with high heels which place more pressure underneath the forefoot.
- High body mass index (BMI) can create increased pressure in the feet.
- Foot type: having a high or low arched foot.
- Foot function: the way your foot is moving throughout gait may increase pressure on certain structures.
- Decreased range of motion in foot joints.
- Trauma or injury to the foot.
- Certain conditions such as rheumatoid or osteoarthritis.
- Repetitive stress or overuse of a joint.
- Certain occupations.
- Physical activity.
Where can bursitis occur in the foot?
- Between the heel bone and achilles bone (retrocalcaneal bursitis).
- In the big joints of the toes (metatarsophalangeal joint bursitis).
- In between the metatarsal bones (intermetatarsal bursitis).
- In the ankle joint.
Treatment for bursitis:
There are a number of different ways our skilled podiatrists can treat bursitis in the foot depending on the location. Options may include:
- Metatarsal domes
- Toe spreaders
- Footwear modifications and education
- Foot orthoses
- Intrinsic foot exercises.
- Addressing biomechanical factors.
- Local anaesthetic injections.
- Referral for cortisone injections.
If you think you may be suffering from bursitis please come in for a through assessment by one of our podiatrists. There are many different pathologies that can cause similar symptoms in the foot and ankle.