When we hear a squeak every time we open a door or kitchen cupboard, it doesn’t usually take long before we hunt for the WD-40 to get the hinge working smoothly and quietly. The joints in your body act like hinges as well, and certain factors, such as age, an injury, or a condition like bursitis can affect the health of your joints. While you may not hear squeaking, bursitis in particular can cause tenderness, pain, and stiffness when a joint has been under too much pressure. Without treatment, the pain can increase and your quality of life may be affected. Learn more about how this condition develops and what you can do to treat it and avoid it.
Reacting to Pressure
Bursae are located where there is the chance of friction from your movements. Whether it be between skin and bone, tendons and bone, or ligaments and bone, the bursa is there as a protective barrier. There are over 150 in your body and they are small, fluid-filled sacs that act as cushions to allow these parts to move smoothly against each other. Their ultimate purpose is to minimize friction. Most of the time they do their job just fine, but they can sustain damage and become a source of joint pain.
Frequent pressure or repetitive motions on the same joint can increase the friction beyond what the bursa can handle. If your body is pressing against the floor while using an air mattress, you would add more air. In response to the friction and the need for more cushioning, the bursa fills up with extra fluid. When it becomes irritated and inflamed in this way, the surrounding tissue will often be stiff, tender and feel warm to the touch. You may see visible swelling and redness and it may be painful to move the joint.
Although bursitis is commonly caused by repeated movements, long periods of pressure, and overuse, it can also develop due trauma—such as a sports injury or sudden twisting movement. Aging, infections, and arthritis can also affect these little protective sacs. There are a few areas in your feet that are particularly susceptible to this type of irritation: between your Achilles tendon and your heel bone, the underside of the heel, the ankle area, the first joint of the big toe, and the first joints of the second or fifth toes.
Responding to the Inflammation
How you respond to foot pain will set the stage for your long-term foot health. Allowing this problem to remain untreated will only cause your symptoms to worsen. The extra fluid in the bursa will make the affected area tender and stiff, and it could hurt if you press on it. An examination is necessary to confirm that your discomfort is from an inflamed bursa and not another condition or injury.
The first response involves removing the source of pressure. This includes a period of rest, avoiding activities that would cause further pain and wearing comfortable shoes that do not put extra pressure on the bursa. We may recommend icing and anti-inflammatory medications to effectively reduce the inflammation, and changes to your footwear and custom orthotics are beneficial during the healing process as well. An infection may require a more aggressive treatment approach, and if there is severe swelling, we may need to draw out some of the fluid from the sac. Laser treatment is also an option that Dr. Danciger can review with you as well.
Bursitis is a painful problem that often gets worse the longer it persists. Don’t allow a condition like this to interrupt your life. Contact Harvey R. Danciger, DPM for effective treatment that will get you back on your feet. Call our Palm Desert office at (760) 569-0108 or use the online request form to reach us.