Home The Book Dr Articles Products Message Boards Journal Articles Search Our Surveys Surgery ESWT Dr Messages Find Good Drs video

Bursitis of the heel

Posted by Kathy on 3/18/01 at hrmin (041786)

I was diagnosed almost a year ago with bursitis of my left heel. There's a large bump to the back left of the heel and it's very painful and swollen. I think it was caused when I suddenly increased my exercise walk by too many miles. I stopped the walking, but the condition has never really improved. At the doctor's suggestion, I've used ice, stretching, Vioxx and after that didn't work, now Celebrex. Some days it feels a little better, but most of the time it's still as painful as when first diagnosed. The next step he said was a cortizone shot, and I'm scared to death of that. I don't know if it's effective for this type problem, or does it just alleviate symptons for a few days or weeks. Would appreciate any suggestions you would have. Thanks.

Re: Bursitis of the heel

ellen w on 3/20/01 at 10:05 (041931)

Hi Kathy,

What you are facing sounds very much like what I've been through. I was diagnosed as having retrocalcaneal bursitis, along with Achilles tendonitis. The tendonitis healed in a couple of months with PT and anti-inflammatories, but the bursitis has taken over a year to heal, and I'm finally beginning to feel like there's an end in sight.

After several months of PT and anti-inflammatories didn't work, my doctor, a sports medicine specialst prescribed an oral steroid that comes in a 5-day dose pack. This had dramatic results (I was able to move in ways that I hadn't for months) -- and although they didn't last at that level, some of the inflammation in the ankle eased, and I felt like I had overcome a plateau that had been previously unbreachable. Several weeks after taking this drug I noticed that some of the redness had gone and my skin was beginning to return to a normal color, the lump had also begun to go down. My doctor said the fact that I responded as I did to the steroids meant the inflammation could go down with surgery, which was one of the treatment paths he was considering. However, I was still experiencing a lot of stiffness and on and off pain, albeit at a level where I was able to function better.

What has gotten me over the next plateau, I think, has been taking a supplement called MSM. You can do a search on the site to see what different people's experiences have been with this. Since starting to take this several weeks ago (3 tablets daily, 750 milligrams in each tab) I've noticed a signficant difference in the way my heel feels. The inflammation is almost all gone and my skin has resumed a normal color, and I'm able to move much much better.

In addition to taking the oral steroid and this supplement, I think the following also played a big role:

PT and stretching/strengthening exercises with a rubber exercise band (I do these every day, and my ankle has gotten significantly stronger).

icing (real ice, not the gel packs) combined with warm soaks.

wearing clogs at work so that nothing rubbed against the back of the heel.

when the inflammation was at its peak, anytime I had to wear shoes with a back, wearing a this thing made by Silipos that is a slip on half-sock with a silicon gel pad that protects the heal. I believe that Dr. Z. has them listed on his web site; I got mine through a shoe catalog company called Soft Spots.

I didn't do the following, but in hindsight, and after following the posts on the board, I would probably add to this list at least trying the following:

taking some time off of work--at least a week, and rigorously following what one poster calls the 10-minute rule -- staying off your feet and and only getting up and doing things for 10 minutes out of every hour.

buying PFTs or Acu-Flex, and exercising with them (see the products board)

see Nancy N's description of her trip to Mexico and her experience with a homeopath -- he recommended keeping her feet elevated for 12 hours a day, plus a low salt diet in addition to some anti-inflammatory herbs.

You might also want to do a search on this board re. cortisone shots -- there's a lot of information on them. Some people seem to have been helped, others not.

When I first found this site, I read Scott's PF book (see the home page) as well as a lot of back posts. There's a lot of good advice, and I continue to be amazed at the wealth of information that is posted here.

I hope this helps, I know the frustration you're going through,

Ellen

sleep

Re: Bursitis of the heel

ellen w on 3/20/01 at 15:43 (041971)

Whoops! meant to say that my doctor said my heel would heal withOUT surgery.

Ellen

Re: Bursitis of the heel

Kathy on 3/20/01 at hrmin (041972)

Thanks, Ellen, so much for all the information and I'm sorry you've been through this too (I had the same diagnosis--just couldn't spell it). It's such a bummer. I used to be very active and loved to exercise walk, and haven't been able to do that in almost a year. I have a great stationary bike at home, and that doesn't seem to aggravate my heel, so I'm trying to do that daily. I miss the outside walks, tho.

I don't know if I can take the oral steroid (i.e. prednisone), since I've had a bad reaction to it in the past. It makes me feel a bit nuts :-), and I have a very hard time sleeping. I've had cortizone shots (in my shoulder) which don't seem to effect me the same way, but I was a little afraid of getting one close to the achilles tendon. I've heard it really weakens them, and I wasn't sure if the cortizone actually cured the problem or just made the symptoms go away for a while. Did your doctor say anything about the shots not being a good idea? My doctor is an orthopeadic doctor, but doesn't specialize in sports medicine or feet.

As far as shoes, I've lived in my Birkenstock clogs and sandals most of the time. I have a good pair of running shoes (Asics gel) that are the most comfortable, but I had to get them a half size bigger than usual to accommodate the heel. I know what you mean about the pressure behind the heel. Dress shoes with backs or loafers are completely out for me.

I will try the MSM and see it that helps. The pain and stiffness goes all the way up my ankle into the calf when it's at its worst.

Thanks again for the info, and I hope and pray yours gets better soon. I never dreamed when I first experienced this over a year ago, that it would hang on this long.

Kathy

Re: Bursitis of the heel

ellen on 3/20/01 at 16:44 (041983)

Hi Kathy--

Let's move this discussion over to the social section -- I'll post a note under your heading. This section is mostly for the doctors to respond to, but when I read your post it was so similar to what I've been through that I wanted to respond.

Ellen

Re: Bursitis of the heel

ellen w on 3/20/01 at 10:05 (041931)

Hi Kathy,

What you are facing sounds very much like what I've been through. I was diagnosed as having retrocalcaneal bursitis, along with Achilles tendonitis. The tendonitis healed in a couple of months with PT and anti-inflammatories, but the bursitis has taken over a year to heal, and I'm finally beginning to feel like there's an end in sight.

After several months of PT and anti-inflammatories didn't work, my doctor, a sports medicine specialst prescribed an oral steroid that comes in a 5-day dose pack. This had dramatic results (I was able to move in ways that I hadn't for months) -- and although they didn't last at that level, some of the inflammation in the ankle eased, and I felt like I had overcome a plateau that had been previously unbreachable. Several weeks after taking this drug I noticed that some of the redness had gone and my skin was beginning to return to a normal color, the lump had also begun to go down. My doctor said the fact that I responded as I did to the steroids meant the inflammation could go down with surgery, which was one of the treatment paths he was considering. However, I was still experiencing a lot of stiffness and on and off pain, albeit at a level where I was able to function better.

What has gotten me over the next plateau, I think, has been taking a supplement called MSM. You can do a search on the site to see what different people's experiences have been with this. Since starting to take this several weeks ago (3 tablets daily, 750 milligrams in each tab) I've noticed a signficant difference in the way my heel feels. The inflammation is almost all gone and my skin has resumed a normal color, and I'm able to move much much better.

In addition to taking the oral steroid and this supplement, I think the following also played a big role:

PT and stretching/strengthening exercises with a rubber exercise band (I do these every day, and my ankle has gotten significantly stronger).

icing (real ice, not the gel packs) combined with warm soaks.

wearing clogs at work so that nothing rubbed against the back of the heel.

when the inflammation was at its peak, anytime I had to wear shoes with a back, wearing a this thing made by Silipos that is a slip on half-sock with a silicon gel pad that protects the heal. I believe that Dr. Z. has them listed on his web site; I got mine through a shoe catalog company called Soft Spots.

I didn't do the following, but in hindsight, and after following the posts on the board, I would probably add to this list at least trying the following:

taking some time off of work--at least a week, and rigorously following what one poster calls the 10-minute rule -- staying off your feet and and only getting up and doing things for 10 minutes out of every hour.

buying PFTs or Acu-Flex, and exercising with them (see the products board)

see Nancy N's description of her trip to Mexico and her experience with a homeopath -- he recommended keeping her feet elevated for 12 hours a day, plus a low salt diet in addition to some anti-inflammatory herbs.

You might also want to do a search on this board re. cortisone shots -- there's a lot of information on them. Some people seem to have been helped, others not.

When I first found this site, I read Scott's PF book (see the home page) as well as a lot of back posts. There's a lot of good advice, and I continue to be amazed at the wealth of information that is posted here.

I hope this helps, I know the frustration you're going through,

Ellen

sleep

Re: Bursitis of the heel

ellen w on 3/20/01 at 15:43 (041971)

Whoops! meant to say that my doctor said my heel would heal withOUT surgery.

Ellen

Re: Bursitis of the heel

Kathy on 3/20/01 at hrmin (041972)

Thanks, Ellen, so much for all the information and I'm sorry you've been through this too (I had the same diagnosis--just couldn't spell it). It's such a bummer. I used to be very active and loved to exercise walk, and haven't been able to do that in almost a year. I have a great stationary bike at home, and that doesn't seem to aggravate my heel, so I'm trying to do that daily. I miss the outside walks, tho.

I don't know if I can take the oral steroid (i.e. prednisone), since I've had a bad reaction to it in the past. It makes me feel a bit nuts :-), and I have a very hard time sleeping. I've had cortizone shots (in my shoulder) which don't seem to effect me the same way, but I was a little afraid of getting one close to the achilles tendon. I've heard it really weakens them, and I wasn't sure if the cortizone actually cured the problem or just made the symptoms go away for a while. Did your doctor say anything about the shots not being a good idea? My doctor is an orthopeadic doctor, but doesn't specialize in sports medicine or feet.

As far as shoes, I've lived in my Birkenstock clogs and sandals most of the time. I have a good pair of running shoes (Asics gel) that are the most comfortable, but I had to get them a half size bigger than usual to accommodate the heel. I know what you mean about the pressure behind the heel. Dress shoes with backs or loafers are completely out for me.

I will try the MSM and see it that helps. The pain and stiffness goes all the way up my ankle into the calf when it's at its worst.

Thanks again for the info, and I hope and pray yours gets better soon. I never dreamed when I first experienced this over a year ago, that it would hang on this long.

Kathy

Re: Bursitis of the heel

ellen on 3/20/01 at 16:44 (041983)

Hi Kathy--

Let's move this discussion over to the social section -- I'll post a note under your heading. This section is mostly for the doctors to respond to, but when I read your post it was so similar to what I've been through that I wanted to respond.

Ellen