Key Points About Foot Bursectomy

  • Foot bursectomy is a minimally invasive procedure used to relieve pain associated with infection or injury in the bursae. Bursae are the fluid-filled sacs that cushion your feet when you walk.
  • People who have tried all conservative treatments, but still experiencing pain associated with the painful bursa may be candidates for a foot bursectomy.
  • A foot bursectomy is relatively safe, but complications may occur. Complications may include infection at the incision site, recurrence, or temporary or permanent mobility challenges.

A foot bursectomy is an orthopedic procedure performed to remove a painful bursa. 

During a foot bursectomy, your orthopedic surgeon will remove one of the painful bursae sacs around the heel. New bursae that are less likely to become irritated will form in the place where the removed one previously was. 

Candidates for a Foot Bursectomy

  • Your doctor will evaluate your case to determine if you are an appropriate candidate for a foot bursectomy.
  • People who have painful bursitis and have undergone conservative treatments without symptom relief may be considered.
  • Athletes who have an inflammation of the bursa caused by a bacterial infection may also be candidates for a foot bursectomy.

Risks Associated with a Foot Bursectomy

While a foot bursectomy is a standard procedure that is generally safe, complications can occur during or after surgery. 

Complications may include:

  • Infection at the incision site.
  • Recurrence. If you do not rest the area appropriately after surgery, you could have a recurrence.
  • Limited mobility that is temporary or permanent.

Preparing for a Foot Bursectomy

Your doctor and care team will review what to expect before, during, and after a foot bursectomy. 

Guidelines may include:

  • Prepare your home and work schedule to be able to rest and keep weight off the affected foot for a few days after surgery.
  • While you can drive yourself home after surgery, it may be uncomfortable to drive. Consider coordinating a ride home if you can.
  • Follow your doctor’s instructions on stopping taking medications that may impede recovery.

What to Expect During a Foot Bursectomy

A foot bursectomy is performed on an outpatient basis in an orthopedic clinic.

Your care team will use topical anesthesia to numb the affected foot joint. Your doctor will make an incision in the bursa and insert a drain tube. The tube will be kept in the bursa for a few days to remove the fluid. You will be given an antibiotic to prevent infection.

If drainage does not provide relief, your movement is severely restricted, and you are in severe pain, your doctor may remove the entire bursa. 

In some cases, your doctor may remove only a portion of the bursa and leave a small piece intact to reduce friction and maintain lubrication.

Duration of Foot Bursectomy Recovery

Your doctor will recommend resting the joints to ensure the affected area heals correctly. Your doctor may prescribe pain medication to reduce any severe pain.

Physical therapy will be recommended to help you regain your foot strength.

Most patients experience long-term symptom relief and full mobility in their affected foot joints.