You’re suffering from what? (Retrocalcaneal Bursitis)

Baz - Mountain Run, Coast to Coast Race, New Zealand
Baz – Mountain Run, Coast to Coast Race, New Zealand

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 Bursa(photo A.D.A.M Inc)
Retrocalcaneal Bursa
(photo credit  A.D.A.M Inc)

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.

Baz - The Landy
Baz – The Landy

A recent x-ray confirmed that a small bone spur is triggering my condition.

Preparing blood for PRP Treatment
Preparing blood for PRP Treatment

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.

A boy who dreamed of big mountains
A boy who dreamed of big mountains

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…

And remember, if all else fails, just remain out of control and take a big leap of faith!

Baz and TomO (two peas in a pod?)
Baz and TomO (two peas in a pod?)