When retrocalcaneal bursitis exists at the same time as Achilles tendonitis in the same leg, this is known as Haglund’s Syndrome. Both these conditions need to be treated in order to recover. Heel pain, tenderness, and swelling are the main symptoms.
Haglund’s syndrome symptoms
Symptoms of Achilles bursitis include pain at the back of the heel, especially when running uphill or on soft surfaces.
There will be tenderness and swelling which might make it difficult to wear certain shoes on the feet and when pressing fingers on both sides of the heel a spongy resistance may be felt.
Achilles tendonitis symptoms include pain and inflammation in the Achilles tendon at the back of the heel. The Achilles tendon will be painful to touch.
Over time a bony growth can appear at the back of the heel bone, called an exostosis (a benign cartilaginous growth). Another name for this is Haglund’s deformity.
We recommend rest, cold therapy, and anti-inflammatory medications. Gently stretching the calf muscles should help. Wearing a heel raise on a temporary basis can help ease the strain on the tendon.
Calf muscle stretches
Calf strain exercises should be pain-free. Do not do this exercise if you have any pain. It is important to allow your muscle to heal before you start stretching them.
- To stretch the big gastrocnemius muscle your back leg must be kept straight
- Stand with the leg to be stretched at the back and hands on a wall at shoulder height
- Bend the front knee and lean forward, keeping the back knee straight and pushing the heel down to the floor
- When you can feel a stretch, hold for 10 to 20 seconds
If the stretch eases, lean further forwards until you can feel it again, but do not push too far in the early stages.
Soleus muscle stretch
Bend the knee to stretch the deeper soleus muscle. This is because the soleus muscle attaches below the knee and bending the knee allows the gastrocnemius muscle to relax leaving the soleus on stretch.
Lean against a wall with the leg to be stretched at the back
- Bend the knee keeping the heel in contact with the ground until a stretch is felt
- Hold for 15 to 20 seconds and repeat
- If you don’t feel a stretch then another method is to place the ball of the foot against the wall and bend the front knee until you feel a stretch