The body has a number of mechanisms that help soften and lubricate joints and bones. One of them is called a bursa, a fluid-filled pouch that separates, absorbs and lubricates, to reduce friction between two surfaces, moving in opposite directions. These surfaces are mainly muscles and tendons that glide over bony structures or glide between bones, especially in the joints. In the process of protecting these structures from inflammation, the bursa itself can become inflamed – a condition called bursitis. In this article, we will consider the symptoms of how to treat foot bursitis, as well as its causes.

There is only one natural bursa in the foot. It is located between the Achilles tendon and the calcaneus (heels). This bag protects the Achilles tendon from the heel bone pressure, which presses it when walking and running. This is the most common area of ​​bursitis in the feet, also known as recurrent bursitis.

How to treat foot bursitis

The body also creates bursa bags in response to damage. In the legs, these areas include the following:

  • The first metatarsal phalangeal joint (the base of the big toe, often associated with bursitis).
  • The base of the second metatarsal phalangeal joint (base of the second toe).
  • The base of the fifth toe.
  • Lower heel and lower forefoot.
  • Ankle joint area.

How to treat foot bursitis, prevention

Home treatment.

For people who treat bursitis at home, it is recommended:

  • Wear comfortable, supportive shoes. People can minimize friction on the heel by avoiding shoes that press against the back of the heel and wear comfortable, supportive shoes. Achilles-cut shoes, a groove in the collar at the back of the shoes to protect the Achilles tendon, can be especially useful (Almost all sneakers are designed with an Achilles neckline).
  • Recreation. Often, a footrest is necessary to reduce inflammation. Medical professionals usually recommend a form that includes rest, ice, compression, and elevation.

Over-the-counter NSAIDs, such as ibuprofen and naproxen, can also help reduce heel pain and inflammation associated with inflammation of the heel mucosa.How to treat bursitis disease

Treatment by a doctor.

When foot bursitis is not resolved with home treatment, or if symptoms indicate septic bursitis, consult a doctor. Your doctor may evaluate the patient for other potential problems or recommend one or more of the procedures described below.

Orthopedics. Wearing an orthopedic device, such as an insert under the heels, can help improve the mechanics in the leg and reduce irritation of the bursa. (Many people don’t need special orthopedics, but just have to stop wearing stiff heel and ankle shoes and wear more comfortable, soft shoes instead.)

Stretching and physiotherapy. Achilles tendon stretching often helps relieve pain. After eliminating the pain, it is important that the patient continues the regular stretching program. Regular stretching reduces the likelihood of recurrence.

Topical medicines. Less commonly used than oral, external NSAIDs and lidocaine patches are sometimes prescribed, especially for patients who want to minimize side effects of the gastrointestinal tract. Topical drugs are becoming increasingly popular, although their ability to treat foot bursitis has not been well studied.

Aspiration. The desire to remove fluid from the swollen bursa with a needle and syringe can often reduce pressure.

Corticosteroid injection. Although they are not used in every case, the symptoms can be quickly eliminated by the injection of corticosteroids. Although effective, some studies have shown that these injections were associated with Achilles tendon degeneration, so stretching and running after the injection should be avoided to prevent damage to the tendons. Often, as a precaution, a short period of immobilization is required after the injection is performed to protect the Achilles binding.

Ultrasound. Using sound waves that cause vibration on the skin, which can stimulate blood circulation and healing. Patients do not feel discomfort during this procedure, which usually happens in the office of a physical therapist. 

Antibiotics. Only septic bursitis requires antibiotic treatment. The choice of antibiotic may depend on which microorganism causes the infection. Most people with septic bursitis are treated effectively with oral antibiotics. More complicated cases may require hospitalization and intravenous antibiotics.

Surgery. Although rare, especially complex cases of foot bursitis may require a bursectomy in which a problematic bursa is removed from the back of the ankle joint. Surgery can be effective, but working in this area of ​​the bones can cause complications, such as problems with skin healing at the incision site.

In addition to removing bursa, a doctor may use surgery to treat foot bursitis for another condition associated with bursitis. For example, a surgeon may remove bone from the back of the heel to change leg mechanics and reduce friction. Any bone spurs located where Achilles are attached to the heel can also be removed.

Symptoms of foot bursitis

Symptoms of bursitis are usually specific to the affected area and may include:

  • Pain, especially when walking, running, or touching.
  • Increased pain on tiptoe.
  • Red, warm skin over the affected area.


Causes of foot bursitis

Legs are constantly stressed when walking and performing other activities on unfriendly surfaces, such as concrete, asphalt and hard floors. This leg tension is often exacerbated by poorly designed and fitted shoes. The effects of pressure, shock, and lateral force can damage the feet over time. The body’s response to this damage is to create a bursa that protects areas that carry a load on the joint. In many cases, the bursa itself becomes inflamed.

A common condition that can cause bursitis in the heel is Haglund deformity, an increase in bone on the back of the heel. In this condition, the soft tissue near the Achilles tendon becomes irritated when the bone thickening rubs on the shoes, especially on hard soles with high heels. Haglund deformity is often called a “bumpy bump”, and it usually affects women.

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Other causes of bursitis include a direct stroke or other damage to the foot joint, acute or chronic infection, arthritis, and gout. The risk of bursitis increases with participation in the following:

  • Competitive athletics, especially contact sports.
  • A previous history of bursitis in any joint.
  • The impact of cold weather.
  • Bad air conditioning.
  • Inadequate workout and sprain.


Although bursitis can be painful, it is usually not a serious condition. However, redness and swelling of the areas associated with bursitis may indicate infection and should be considered by a doctor as a precaution. Always tell your doctor how to treat foot bursitis if you have pain, redness, swelling, or other signs of problems in any area of ​​the foot that persist for several days.


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