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What is Bursitis of the Foot?

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  • Written By: Sarah Sullins
  • Edited By: Michelle Arevalo
  • Last Modified Date: 26 September 2016
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Bursal sacs are fluid-filled sacs that lubricate and reduce the amount of irritation that is caused by a person’s muscles or ligaments going over bone. Bursitis of the foot occurs when these sacs become inflamed. The inflammation may be due to age, joint overuse, twisting, or repetitive movement.

In the foot, there is typically one bursal sac, which is located at the back of the heel. This sac is generally responsible for protecting the Achilles tendon from being rubbed by the heel bone as a person walks. Many more bursal sacs may form in other areas of the foot, depending on where the body feels the cushion is needed. If the sac goes through too much trauma, the result may be bursitis of the foot.

Pain, swelling, and inflammation generally occur with this condition, with increased amounts of pain when waking up or after sitting down for a while. A person with bursitis of the foot may not be able to move the affected joint as easily, and the muscles in the foot may become weak. The area that is inflamed may be hot to the touch as well. Many times, persons who are suffering from bursitis will find that they are not in as much pain when they do not have their shoes or socks on.

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Resting the feet will help to relieve the pain that is caused by this condition. A person may also apply ice to the swollen and painful area for about 15 minutes at a time. The person’s doctor may recommend that he does some range of motion exercises and some stretches to help improve muscle strength in the foot.

The shoes that a person wears are often the reason that bursitis of the foot has occurred. Changing to different shoes can sometimes help prevent the inflamed bursal sac from reoccurring. If the sac that is inflamed is located behind the toes, a person may need to increase the size of the shoes he wears to give the toes more space. An arch support or orthotic may be placed in the shoes to help reduce the pressure from bursitis located on the bottom of the foot.

Sometimes over-the-counter anti-inflammatory medications can help to reduce swelling and inflammation. If this does not help, a doctor may be able to prescribe stronger medications that will assist in getting rid of any symptoms of bursitis of the foot. Although it is rare, surgery must be done at times to remove a bursal sac that continues to become inflamed.

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