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Heel bursitis: symptoms, causes and treatment

by Alivia Nyhan
Published: Last Updated on

Synovial bags or bursae are fluid-filled bags found in some parts of the body with friction points, such as bones, tendons, or muscles, providing them with a kind of cushion. In this way, the movement of the joints is facilitated, and friction between them is avoided. Inflammation or irritation of the bursae is called bursitis.

In the case of heel bursitis or retrocalcaneal bursitis, the condition is located at the back of the heel bone. The Achilles tendon is responsible for connecting the calf muscles with the heel bone in this place. Therefore, the retrocalcaneal bursa has the function of smoothing the movement in this area. At FastlyHealwe, tell you the symptoms, causes, and heel bursitis treatment.

Causes of heel bursitis

Generally, the leading cause of heel bursitis is repetitive or overuse of the ankle, such as when walking, running, or jumping. If this activity is carried out in an abusive way, it can irritate the retrocalcaneal bursa. For this reason, it often appears in athletes and sportspeople subjected to great physical demands.

Starting a very intense exercise program without being used to it or suddenly increasing the level of physical activity without warming up properly are some of the factors that increase the chances of suffering from this condition. Diseases such as gout or rheumatoid arthritis can also cause it. Heel bursitis should not be confused with Achilles tendonitis since it is not the same type of inflammation. However, sometimes they can appear together.

Symptoms of heel bursitis

Mainly, retrocalcaneal bursitis is characterized by causing pain in the heel, especially when walking, running, or feeling the area. This pain appears even when the ankle is moved without loading it and can be more intense when standing on tiptoe, that is, getting up on the toes. Other symptoms of heel bursitis are:

  • Redness and swelling of the affected area.
  • Rigidity.
  • Sensitivity when pressing the heel.

Treatment of heel bursitis

Bursitis is usually diagnosed by an exam to find the source of the pain so that the doctor will look at the condition of the heel. An ultrasound can show inflammation of the retrocalcaneal bursa but is usually unnecessary. Once bursitis is diagnosed, treatment will be based on reducing inflammation in the area and preventing a relapse. First, some recommendations are to avoid activities that cause discomfort, take anti-inflammatories such as ibuprofen to relieve pain, apply cold to the heel several times a day and even use special shoes that reduce tension.

However, physical therapy will be the best long-term remedy to increase flexibility and strengthen the ankle muscles so that we prevent bursitis from recurring. Generally, with the correct treatment application, the inflammation usually subsides in a few weeks. It will be essential to properly stretch the Achilles tendon before exercising and maintaining flexibility to prevent this condition.


Here are some recommendations to prevent heel bursitis :

  • Maintain proper posture when exercising.
  • Wear suitable shoes, preferably with sufficient arch support; this way, you won’t put too much pressure on the tendon.
  • Warm-up before starting any exercise routine.
  • Avoid being overweight.
  • Eat healthily.
  • Do Achilles tendon stretches to prevent injury.

This article is merely informative, at FastlyHeal .com we do not have the power to prescribe medical treatments or make any type of diagnosis. We invite you to see a doctor in the case of presenting any type of condition or discomfort.

If you want to read more articles similar to Heel Bursitis: symptoms, causes and treatment, we recommend that you enter our category of Bones, Joints, and Muscles.

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