For those of us who run, walk, jog, exercise on a regular basis the term achillies tendonitis is probably equally as familiar as the dog that always chases you half-way through your usual running route.
I suspect the achillies is blamed for most of the pain occurring in that region, but it can also be from other sources.
Over a period of time I have been suffering from Retrocalcaneal Bursitis.
Retro what, I hear you ask.
And just to be clear and to avoid any confusion, the condition and associated pain is in my heel, well below, um, my rear-end.
So what is this ailment, what causes it, and more importantly, what makes it go away?
My sports physician and I have been working on the last part of that answer for some time now. Bursitis is an inflammation of a little fluid sac found around most of the major joints in our body and it is designed to provide lubrication against friction where muscle and tendons are sliding over bones.
Retrocalcaneal bursitis is the area specifically located around the ankle and heel area of the foot.
Causes for the condition can be varied, but for the most part it is an overuse type of injury that can be induced by walking, running, jogging, and can be accentuated by walking uphill.
For me, that is a tick on all counts. Jogging, tick, running, tick…
Women People wearing high heel shoes can often suffer from the condition.
Last year when I was training for the Coast to Coast Adventure race, a race from the West to East coast of New Zealand ,the condition came and went and was usually treated with plenty of stretching and some anti-inflammatory medication. However, the condition has worsened over the past few months, corresponding to an increase in my mountaineering endeavours, which involves plenty of uphill walking on steep inclines.
A recent x-ray confirmed that a small bone spur is triggering my condition.
And now that we know precisely what we are dealing with remedial treatment has commenced. My sports physician has elected to use Platelet Rich Plasma injections, or PRP as it is referred to as. This is a relatively new technology that involves taking a sample of your own blood, in the same way you would normally do so if having a blood test, and this is placed in a centrifuge to extract the plasma which is then injected into the injured area.
The science behind the treatment is that the platelets contain growth factors which stimulate an inflammatory and healing process.
Okay, I’m sure it is far more technical than that, but crikey, the last time I played doctors and nurses it was with the Kelly girls when I was 10 years old, and it was nothing as complex as PRP treatments.
But I’m digressing…
I had one PRP treatment about two weeks ago, along with a cortisone injection and I will be having a follow up injection in a week’s time to assist the healing process.
And whilst the treatment does not correct the bone spur at this time, it will help strengthen and thicken the achillies tendon and help protect against the aggravation, well that is what we are hoping for as surgery usually takes quite some time to recover from, but may be necessary eventually.
So another couple of weeks of rest away from the normal exercise routine, but I’m chomping at the bit and need to get extremely fit for the climbing expedition to Nepal later this year.
Strewth, can’t wait for that…
Hi. I hv been having this annoying pain around my ankle and heel. It is worse when I climb down stairs. I do hv bone spur, plantar fascitis, haglund syndrome n flat foot. Been having the pain for years. Trying to avoid surgery.
Went to a physio but pain did not go away. Whst do you suggest?
Surgery most likely….good luck!
Sounds unpleasant! I hope it gets better but my recommendation is – don’t jog! Walk. Walk fast if you have to. The human frame aint meant for jogging 🙂
Well recovered from it now, unfortunately I had to have surgery on the Achilles!
But yes, walking is much better than jogging…
I have never heard of this before….sounds painful and annoying…especially for someone who loves to climb, and run, and challenge the world on a regular basis. I hope the treatments work and you can get back to your awesome adventures!
Hi Baz, hope it is all going well! I have been dealing with bursitis in both my heels for the last 8 months now. I’ve had cortisone injections (which didn’t seem to help). I’ve been trying to stay off my feet, but now I’m feeling like I’ve lost a lot of strength. Do you have certain exercises to strength the muscles in your ankles/feet? And would you recommend surgery?
Thanks, I’m doing very well thank you. And I can empathise with you, there is nothing worse than bursitis in the Achilles, well at least it seems that way. Cortisone did not resolve it for me and hence the surgery. Whilst hard fro me to recommend surgery, what I would recommend is seeking out a good doctor to assess it. I had tears in mine that seemed to contribute to the problem. But perhaps immobilising your foot in a “moon boot” for 6-8 weeks may resolve the problem. One thing is for sure I had to find a solution.
Where are you based and feel free to email me for further detail…
Good luck to you. I’m dealing with the exact same diagnosis – and have been for over a year now.
Well good luck with it. I have had surgery now and well on the way to recovery… 🙂
Ohmigosh, Baz. Your son is wearing Vans tennis shoes! I knew I liked you guys. 🙂
Thanks for the update, and I hope it gets you “back on your feet” in no time. Have you tried acupuncture? I have found it to be very helpful for inflammatory conditions. Patience is key. Good luck!
Ouch. When I first started reading I was going to ask if you take fish oil supplements, but what you’ve got going on there sounds way more complicated. Good luck with it. I hear those heel spurs alone are very painful.
I hope you heal quickly! I wear heels five days a week and I spent a solid four hours standing in them today AFTER work. This cannot be good.
Thanks, I only wear them on Friday evening myself!
sending lots of healing and healthy thoughts :}
Thanks BG, and spotted some great photos of you running recently on FB….love it!
Good luck on the remedy and healing. You will kick Nepal’s rear end! And, I want to Canyon Swing – it looks like so much fun!
Let’s hope so on all accounts, and go the Canyon Swing…see the video here…