What is Calcaneal Bursitis?

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  • Written By: Nat Robinson
  • Edited By: C. Wilborn
  • Last Modified Date: 14 September 2019
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Bursitis occurs as the result of an inflamed bursa. A bursa is a small fluid-filled sac which acts as a gliding surface to minimize friction between tendons, muscles, and bones. If the bursa becomes inflamed, it usually swells, loses its slippery gliding function, and becomes quite painful. Calcaneal bursitis is a type of bursitis occurring under the heel bone. Retro calcaneal bursitis and inferior calcaneal bursitis are some common types of bursitis in the heel.

Generally, calcaneal bursitis is caused by overuse. Physical activities that cause repetitious movements may eventually lead to overuse of the heel. The condition may be made worse by wearing improper fitting shoes, including shoes that are too tight, which can place excessive pressure on the heel.

Individuals with this condition will usually have an inflamed bursa on the bottom of the heel. This will typically make standing and walking difficult. Pain is generally the most significant symptom of calcaneal bursitis. Even though the entire heel may hurt, the greatest amount of pain is commonly felt in the center. Other symptoms can include swelling, tenderness, and a sensation of warmth in the heel.


Retro calcaneal or retrocalcaneal bursitis refers to the inflammation of a bursa on the back of the heel. Most commonly, this bursa is located between the heel bone and the Achilles tendon, which attaches the calf muscles to the heel bone. This condition commonly occurs after overuse of the ankle, often through activities such as jumping and running for long periods of time. Redness in the heel and pain that may intensify upon standing, particularly on the toes, are among the most common symptoms.

This condition is sometimes referred as "pump bumps." Wearing shoes that constantly rub against the back of the ankle may cause friction. As a result of this friction, the bursa can become inflamed; sometimes the inflammation is severe enough that it may be visually noticeable and appear as a swollen bump in the area between the heel and ankle. Symptoms of this type of calcaneal bursitis may begin with pain in the back of the heel, followed by redness, irritation, and finally the appearance of bumps in the area.

The plantar fascia connects the heel bone to the toes. It is made up of a thick band of tissue which runs across the bottom of the foot. Inferior calcaneal bursitis can occur if a bursa near the location of the plantar fascia becomes inflamed. Pain on the bottom of the foot, predominantly near the heel, may be experienced in individuals with this condition. Removing and placing shoes upon the foot may be especially difficult if the heel is very irritated.

An individual with a fever and chills in addition to having a warm swollen heel may have an infection. In this event, professional medical help should be sought at once. The doctor will typically prescribe antibiotics, and may need to drain fluid from the bursa to treat the infection. Calcaneal bursitis treatment without the presence of an infection will generally include rest, anti-inflammatory medications, and ice compressions to reduce swelling. Most people will also find that wearing proper fitting shoes will generally eliminate the pain and irritation most commonly associated with this condition.


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Post 1

I am now 54 years of age. i used to run 1,500 metres to marathons at an elite (international level). I used to train (run) twice a day every day for approximately nine years.

One day in a marathon race I experienced this sharp pain in my right heel (just below the achilles tendon). Unfortunately i experienced this injury at about the 26 km mark and ran the remaining 16 kilometres in extreme pain and still finished in a slow time of 2 hrs 22 min. Since that day (22 years ago i have never been able to train.

I immediately developed a large raised bump behind my heel. I believe that it is now calcified.

Whenever I do any

running this section of my heel gets inflamed and becomes very sore and I walk with a limp. When the inflammation goes away i can walk normally with no pain and no limp.

Just recently i have attempted to do some slow jogging. My calf gets very tight to the point where i know i will tear the calf muscle (only in the injured leg from previous years - not the other leg). also my achilles tendon in this leg becomes very tight and sore. Is there anything I can do?

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