Are Your Joints Swollen or Stiff? You Might Have Bursitis

Especially in athletes and those who run often, bursitis is fairly common. If you feel that your joints are stiff, maybe this article will apply to you since we’re here to break down what bursitis is, causes, treatments and more.

What is bursitis?

Within the body, there are many sacs between the bones, tendons, ligaments and joints filled with fluid that act similar to cushions. They reduce the pressure and friction as we move around and bend our limbs. When these bursa sacs (or bursae) become damaged or inflamed due to repetitive use and constant stress, this leads to swelling and pain. Within the feet, it is most common in the retrocalcaneal bursa which is at the back of the heel.

What are the causes?

There are several causes of bursitis in the feet. The most frequent reasons would be a sudden injury or repetitive motions that result in overuse. Once the bursa is irritated from trauma or friction, it will likely cause pain. However, here are some other contributing factors that will affect your feet:

  • Ill-fitting shoes that squeeze the back of the foot
  • High intensity and impact sports without cooling down and warming up
  • Repetitive movement

There are also risk factors to look out for. For example, there is a higher chance of having bursitis as you age or have other pre-existing medical conditions such as arthritis or diabetes. Being overweight also means more pressure on the foot and knees.

What are the symptoms?

As mentioned above, if your joints or the back of your foot start to feel stiff or swollen, those are good indicators that you might have bursitis. It is important to keep in mind that the symptoms will appear different in every individual. Here are more symptoms of the condition:

  • Pain in the toes, sole or heel
  • Discomfort when walking
  • Loss of motion
  • The area is warm to the touch

The pain will likely increase when you stand on your toes and will get worse with any sort of movement or exercise. When this occurs, it is best to rest so the healing process can start. If you feel any of the symptoms, you should check with your physician to see if there is a treatment plan available. It is difficult to self-diagnose, so seeking professional help is always the best solution.

How do you prevent bursitis?

It is important that you wear shoes that fit properly and have a lot of cushioning at the heel to prevent friction or pressure. This can also be solved with shoe inserts or other orthotic devices. If you speak to your doctor, it is possible that they will also know of some stretching regimens that will be of assistance. Prevention is always better than treating the condition, so be sure to follow these steps.

What are the treatment options available?

Invasive treatments are rarely necessary, but to relieve your symptoms there are a series of steps you can take.

  • R.I.C.E: rest, ice, compression, elevation
  • Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs): These are anti-inflammatory medications such as aspirin to reduce the swelling
  • MLS laser therapy: This laser uses special light wavelengths to treat painful conditions by penetrating the tissues to stimulate healing.
  • Shockwave therapy: This therapy uses rapid vibrations to treat inflammation by increasing blood flow to the area and reducing muscle spasms.
  • Steroid injection: Most of the time, these injections will contain something like triamcinolone which is an anti-inflammatory to relieve pain and reduce swelling

If you are experiencing swelling, tenderness or any of the symptoms described above in your heel and believe you’ll need a consultation with our podiatrist in Burlington, our team will have your feet examined to decide your treatment options at Mobility on Mainway! Call us at 289-245-6624 to book an appointment.

Mobility on Mainway is here to deliver the best form of care to your feet and ankles so that you can get back up and start the rest of your journey pain-free!

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