A bursa is a fluid filled sac. There are many naturally occurring bursas throughout the body and their role is to prevent friction between structures.
However, sometimes the bursa can become irritated and inflamed. This is bursitis. Bursitis can occur at several places in the foot. Two more common locations are behind the heel under or around the Achilles tendon, or near the metatarsal bones at the front of your foot.
Bursitis around the Achilles may be associated with other Achilles conditions, or related to footwear that doesn’t fit the heel properly, an increase in activity or several other factors. Bursitis between the metatarsal bones is often associated with a flexible foot which allows the bones to move around more than normal and so compress or irritate the bursas between them.
Bursitis may also affect the hip or knee.
Bursitis often, but not always, involves localised redness, swelling, warmth and pain in the area and may involve stiffness.
What you can do at home:
- Put ice in a bag and wrap it in a tea towel. Use this to ice the area for 5-10 minutes at a time, a few times a day. Be careful not to slip when walking around afterwards!
- Try to rest your foot a bit more than normal and put it up on a stool.
- Try to avoid things that you find make it worse.
- Speak to your podiatrist or GP about your suitability for using an anti-inflammatory medication or gel short term.
Your podiatrist will try to determine the cause or aggravating factors to prevent further irritation of the bursa and to allow the inflammation to settle. They may:
- Give you advice about your shoes.
- Place some padding in your shoes such as a dome under the ball of your foot.
- Recommend orthotics to help stabilise a very flexible foot which is not functioning as well as it should meaning it is increasing the irritation of various structures in the foot or for various other reasons.
- In some cases, the podiatrist may suggest a cortisone injection to help settle the inflammation. However, the cause should still be addressed.