Ankle bursitis can be a painful and debilitating condition. Understanding and treating ankle bursitis, however, is not nearly so painful. The large joints of the body are the most common areas affected by bursitis and this includes the ankles. The pain and inflammation experienced during an attack can severely limit mobility and affect the quality of life.

What is ankle bursitis?

The bursae are sacs of synovial fluid that help the tendons and muscles move smoothly across bones and each other. Sometimes due to repetitive motion, overuse, illness, unnatural foot pronation, or trauma these sacs become inflamed. Motion becomes difficult and the continued movement around the bursa can also lead to more inflammation and pain. This may be chronic in people who suffer from rheumatoid arthritis. The individual who suffers ankle bursitis is particularly unfortunate because for many people being bedridden or unable to be mobile is simply not an option.

What are the symptoms of ankle bursitis?

It is easy to overlook the symptoms of bursitis and confuse it with Achilles' tendinitis or some other malady. The basic symptoms of true ankle bursitis include swelling and ankle joint pain. The pain around the ankle joint may feel like burning and the joint itself may be uncharacteristically stiff, too. The swelling brought about by the bursa inflammation is usually very apparent.

How hard is treating ankle bursitis?

Fortunately, in most people the bursitis experienced in the ankle area is not chronic. The first thing to do is try to reduce the inflammation as this will relieve some of the pain and pressure of movement. It is almost the same as for a sprain: RICE - rest, ice,compression, and elevation. The rest, ice and elevation are very important, but compression should be avoided! The increased pressure will only exacerbate the problem. As long as there are no infections that require antibiotics, the simple use of over-the-counter anti-inflammatory medications will usually do the trick. Surgery may be required in extreme cases, but is not common.

What if ankle bursitis persists?

If the inflammation, pain, burning sensation and stiffness continue after resting and applying cold compresses than a doctor should definitely be consulted. The cause of some types of bursitis is due to other more complicated (and possibly deadly) systemic diseases. In this case, bursitis may be a symptom for something far worse. A doctor will be able to determine if an infection is the issue or if the bursitis is one small part of an overall big health picture. Home remedies are usually great, but ankle bursitis should still be treated as a serious illness.

Treating ankle bursitis takes time and patience as much as any prescription or drug. The key is to keep off the ankle until the swelling subsides. Massages can help relieve the stress and offer some relief for the swollen area. Avoid any strenuous exercise, sudden movements or any action that may lead to accidental trauma to the ankle. For most people, ankle bursitis is a rare and easily treated illness with only minor adjustments needed to overcome it.