A common but painful condition
Foot Health with Leana
Many people are living with this condition, but are unaware of what it really is. Bursitis is inflammation and swelling of a bursa. A bursa is a fluid-filled sac which forms under the skin. It is sometimes painful, and bursae (plural of bursa), cushion and lubricate areas where tendons, ligaments, skin, muscles, or bones rub against each other.
There are over 150 bursae in the body. So people who repeat the same movement over and over, or who put continued pressure on a joint in their jobs, sports, or daily activities have a greater chance of getting bursitis.
• Your risk of developing bursitis is increased if you regularly take part in physical activities that involve a lot of repetitive movement, for example running (bursitis in the ankle), or playing darts (bursitis in the elbow).
• Long periods of pressure on an area. For example, carpet or tile layers, roofers or gardeners who work on their knees all day can develop bursitis over the knee cap.
• Aging, which is a primary factor, can cause the bursa to break down over time.
• You can also get it through other problems, such as arthritis or infection (septic bursitis).
• Persons who are normally sedentary, but overwork themselves, are at risk too.
Areas of the foot affected can include the knee, ankle and Achilles tendon (the large tendon that attaches the heel bone to the calf muscle). Symptoms of bursitis may be like those of tendinopathy (tendon injuries that involve larger-scale acute injuries accompanied by inflammation). Both occur in the tissues in and around the joints. Check with your doctor if your pain is severe, if the sore area becomes very hot or red, or if you have a fever.
How is it diagnosed?
Your doctor or podiatrist will check for it by asking questions about your past health, recent activities, and through an examination of the area.
If your symptoms are severe or get worse even after treatment, you may need other tests. Your doctor may drain fluid from the bursa through a needle, and test it for infection. Or you may need X-rays, an ultrasound, or MRI.
Treating your bursitis
• Most cases of bursitis can be treated at home. Home treatment is often enough to reduce pain and let the bursa heal.
• Rest the affected area. Avoid any activity or direct pressure that may cause pain.
• Use an ice pack (a frozen bag of vegetables wrapped in a tea towel works well) to reduce inflammation.
• You may take painkillers such as paracetamol and ibuprofen, since they could help to relieve your symptoms and speed up your recovery. However, don’t rely on medicine to relieve pain to facilitate overuse of your joints.
• Do range-of-motion exercises each day. If your bursitis is in or near a joint, gently move the joint through its full range of motion, even during the time that you are resting the joint area. This will prevent stiffness. As the pain goes away, add other exercises to strengthen the muscles around the joint.
• Your doctor may suggest physical therapy for such strengthening.
The pain usually improves within a few weeks, but the swelling may take longer to completely disappear. See your doctor or podiatrist if your symptoms do not improve after two weeks.
• Avoid tobacco smoke. Smoking delays wound and tissue healing.
Taking the following precautions may help reduce your risk of getting bursitis:
• Wear knee pads when kneeling.
• Warm up properly before exercise.
• Train properly for a new activity by slowly increasing the intensity of your workout.
• Engage in exercise and sports on a daily basis, or almost daily, instead of on weekends only.
• Learn and maintain proper posture and body mechanics, like sitting with one leg folded under you.
• Make sure your sports equipment is the right size, the correct fit for you, and is designed for the sport you are doing.
• Don’t stay in one position for lengthy periods. Take rest breaks or change positions every 20–40 minutes.
• Stop any activity that causes pain.
Your feet mirror your general health . . . cherish them!
Leana Huntley is an English trained foot health practitioner attached to ALMAWI Limited The Holistic Clinic. To contact the Clinic, e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org or visit the Website at www.almawiclinic.com.