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Boston Red Sox David Ortiz Out With Bursitis

Boston Red Sox designated hitter David Ortiz has been seen walking in a boot.  He is out of the line-up, being diagnosed with Achilles bursitis.  Most have heard about Achilles tendonitis, but what is the story of Achilles bursitis.


The Achilles tendon is the longest, strongest, and largest tendon of the human body.  It runs from the back of the knee to the back of the heel bone.  It inserts into the heel bone (also known as the calcaneus).  The insertion is over an area estimated to be roughly 2cm x 3cm.  Between the Achilles tendon and the heel bone is a fluid filled sac known as the retrocalcaneal bursa.  This sac serves the purpose of cushioning the tendon against the bone and minimizing the irritation to the tendon and. providing some sensation feedback to the foot and ankle region.


A retrocalcaneal bursa can become inflamed for a number of reasons.  A tight Achilles tendon can rub on the bone and lead to inflammation of the bursa.  A bump in the back of the heel bone, known as a Halgund’s deformity or “pump bump” can irritate the bursa and the tendon and lead to bursitis as well.  If the tendonitis and bursitis have been present for a long period of time, the inner part of the Achilles tendon can degenerate and lead to “tendinosis.”  Furthermore, irritation of the tendon for a long period of time can cause calcium to be deposited into the tendon.

This entity is usually seen in females, over the age of 40, and obese.  However, it can be seen in any individual.


Individuals usually experience pain in the back part of the heel.  Swelling may be present.  A bump in the Achilles insertion site may also be present.  The pain is usually worsened with shoes with a back on it, activities that require the ankle to be flexed upwards (such as when you walk up a hill), or movement of the ankle in any plane of motion.


If you suspect that you have an Achilles bursitis, you should seek medical attention within 1-2 weeks, particularly if the pain worsens or does not improve. A physical exam and x-rays will be initially used to assess your condition.  At times, and MRI may also be needed to look for any Achilles tendon involvement.


Treatment is initially managed with non-surgical options.  These include the short term use of heel lifts, boots, anti-inflammatories (pills or topical creams), physical therapy to stretch the Achilles, night splints used to hold the Achilles stretched out at night.  Ultrasound, shock wave therapy, platelet rich protein, and laser therapy have had mixed results in the medical literature.  Steroid injections should be used with caution, as the steroid can  lead to the Achilles being torn.

If nonsurgical treatments fail for 3 to 6 months, surgical options are explored.  These include shaving the Haglund’s deformity, cleaning the Achilles tendon (if there is degeneration of the tendon), and tendon transfers (if the Achilles tendon is severely involved).  Depending on the severity of the condition, these surgeries can be performed endoscopically with two small incisions and a camera and tools, or with open surgery.


Most patients  with a retrocalcaneal bursitis do well with conservative care.  Those who require surgery will recover for up to 1 year and require a lot of physical therapy.


Depending on the severity of the bursitis, Ortiz may be out of play for 1-4 weeks.


A live surgical video can be seen at: 

PART 1: http://www.youtube.com/NCOCatDuke#p/u/13/S_1ur94eXTk

PART 2: http://www.youtube.com/NCOCatDuke#p/u/5/1quCnfbf6Po

 Animated video can be seen below:


Dr. P


All material published through this blog/website is for informational and entertainment purposes only. Readers are encouraged to confirm the information contained herein with other sources. Patients and consumers should review the information carefully with their professional health care provider. The information is not intended to replace medical advice offered by physicians. Dr. Parekh and Duke University will not be liable for any direct, indirect, consequential, special, exemplary, or other damages arising from the discussions in this blog.   For more information on the North Carolina Orthopaedic Clinic, go to: http://www.ncorthoclinic.com/  For more information on Duke Orthopaedics, go to: http://www.dukehealth.org/orthopaedics



Selene Parekh, M.D.

Selene Parekh, M.D. (also known as the “Fantasy Doctor”) is an orthopaedic surgeon and foremost expert on sports injuries who’s fast becoming the go-to expert for the multibillion dollar fantasy sports industry.

  • N.C. Orthopaedic Clinic
  • Durham Regional Hospital
  • Davis Ambulatory Surgery Center
  • Duke Hospital North
  • Duke Ambulatory Surgery Center

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