Our body has more than 200 joints, 33 of which are located in the foot and ankle. When all is well within a joint, we’re able to bend and move around easily – pain-free! But there’s a lot that can go wrong with a joint, especially as we age. Who hasn’t met a senior citizen who doesn’t complain of some sort of joint pain, be it the knees, back, hips, or toes?
Arthritis is just one example of a disease that affects our aging joints, causing breakdown of the cartilage between two bones. A lesser-known cause of joint pain is bursitis. The two conditions have “-itis” in common, which is the suffix meaning “inflammation.” But whereas arthritis is inflammation of the lining of a joint, bursitis is inflammation of a specific piece within a joint called a bursa.
Definition of a bursa and bursitis
Think of a bursa as a tiny, fluid-filled pillow that eases the friction between the hard surface of a joint (the bone, for example) and the soft tissue that surrounds it (such as muscle or ligament). The outside membrane of the bursa (the “pillowcase”) can become inflamed. Some causes of bursa inflammation include
- excess pressure from tight footwear
- repetitive motion
- some underlying disease such as rheumatoid arthritis and gout
- age – the older you are, the more likely you are to develop bursitis
Bursitis pain can be improved or eliminated by using RICE (rest/ice/compression/elevation), taking anti-inflammatory medications, strengthening the muscles that surround the affected joint, and wearing custom orthotics.
As with most conditions of the foot, early treatment for bursitis can mean the difference between a short-lived episode and one that can last for many weeks. For the best outcome, visit Montgomery Foot Care Specialists at the first sign of pain and swelling in your feet. Dr. Heidi M. Christie and Dr. Chanda L. Day-Houts are expert podiatrists with many years treating bursitis and other causes of foot inflammation. Contact us online or call our office in Montgomery, Alabama at (334) 396-3668.