More common than you might think bursitis foot pain is caused by a number of factors. Some are very easy to address while others take a little more effort. But, getting relief from foot pain caused by bursitis will have a big impact on your daily activities and quality of life. Learn more about what causes foot bursitis and how you can treat it.
Your foot is equipped with its own cushioning system that helps reduce the impact of walking and running on hard surfaces. Orthopedic Surgeon and Sports Medicine Specialist, Dr. Jeffrey Tedder, explains, "The bursa is a fluid-filled sac that’s located around joints to help them function. When these are inflamed or irritated, it’s called bursitis, and can decrease the amount of motion in the joint. This most commonly occurs in the heel, hip, knee, shoulder, and thumb."
If the bursa in your foot becomes inflamed from overuse or injury, you may experience pain, swelling, or bruising in your heel, arch, or metatarsal area (ball of foot).
There are many things that can contribute to the development of bursitis foot pain. The most common cause of foot bursitis is the overuse or improper use of your foot’s muscles, bones, and tendons. Other common causes include the use of ill-fitting footwear and other biomechanical issues in your feet.
Repetitive activities like jumping, dancing, power walking, or running can lead to foot bursitis. This can be especially true if you don’t take the time to stretch and warm-up your body—especially your feet—prior to exercise. Always spend time stretching your body and feet prior to athletic activities to ensure your muscles and tendons are warmed up, with proper blood flow and oxygen.
If you are not accustomed to strenuous activity, take things slowly when you first begin a new exercise regimen. While you may (and should) be enthusiastic about your healthy new routine, your body needs time to adjust to the new demands. Pacing yourself in the beginning is an important step in becoming fit and avoiding injury.
Ill-fitting footwear is another culprit when it comes to bursitis. If you regularly run, jump, dance, or spend many hours at a time on your feet, be sure your footwear has:
Biomechanical Irregularities In The Foot
Sometimes, bursitis foot pain can be caused by an existing foot irregularity, like Haglund’s deformity—a bone spur that can develop on the heel. The bursa can become inflamed as it tries to cushion the heel and the spur from impact.
Other conditions that may cause or contribute to bursitis include problems with thyroid levels, infections, arthritis, or diabetes. These medical conditions can be life-threatening if left untreated, so it is important to see a physician if you have symptoms of bursitis in your foot.
If your doctor suspects you may have bursitis, they will examine your foot and ask you about the symptoms, how often you exercise, when the pain began, and your medical history. To rule out an underlying illness, injury, deformity, or bone fracture, your doctor may order an X-ray, ultrasound, MRI, or blood work. If they suspect an infection, they may remove some fluid from the bursa to test it for gout.
Note that bursitis foot pain is often confused with other foot conditions, including: plantar fasciitis, a heel spur, Achilles tendinopathy, Sever’s Disease, a trapped nerve, Haglunds’ deformity, or a stone bruise. Depending on the condition your doctor finds, they may refer you to a rheumatologist, orthopedist, or podiatrist.
The good news about foot bursitis is that it can be easily managed with proper and prompt attention. Here are a few common bursitis foot treatment options:
Remember, footwear manufacturers design their shoes to fit the widest range of people. That means the vast majority of shoes have minimal arch support. Footwear makers do this because they expect that people who need additional arch support will add an insole.
You'll get the most out of your footwear by replacing the factory inserts that come in your shoes with firm, supportive insoles. To get the most out of the arch support insoles you're adding to your shoes, look for ones that:
Podiatrists recommend firm support to improve alignment, control pronation, and deliver long-term comfort. Insoles are a small investment in good lifelong foot health. Add them to your footwear and reap the benefits.
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