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What is Bursitis of the Foot – Causes, Symptoms, Treatment

What Is Bursitis of the Foot
Written by Benedikt Meyers
Last Update: August 23, 2023

Bursitis occurs when a special type of fluid-filled sac named “bursa” gets inflated. It’s a painful experience many athletes have had to face. The sacks protect your skin, muscle, or tendons from the bones, especially in the joint areas. If you put heavy pressure on your joints, these sacks can swell up, making usually everyday movements hard and painful.

Prevention is always better than cure. Join us as we explore the causes, symptoms, treatments, and prevention hacks that can help you avoid Bursitis attacking your foot. Also, if someone you know suffers from it, you’ll be able to provide the correct information. Let’s get started.

What is Bursitis of The Foot

 bursitis of the foot

Bursitis is a painful condition that affects the sacs cushioning the tendons, muscles, and bones near your joints. The inflammation of the fluid-filled sacs (also called bursae) causes bursitis. Bursitis commonly occurs in the shoulder, hip, and elbow areas though you may also have it in your heel, knee, and the base of your big toe.

They often occur around joints that are subjected to frequent movements. Bursitis leads to uncomfortable symptoms and can also damage nearby tissues. When inflamed the sacs swell several times their normal size.


Though bursitis can occur in any bursa of the body; some are more prone to it. These include sacs near joints that are used repetitively –

a) Shoulder

Shoulder bursitis also called rotator cuff tendonitis occurs when the shoulder bursa is inflamed.

b) Elbow

The sacs/bursa are located between the skin and elbow bones. It is caused by constant pressure on the elbow or due to an injury.

c) Buttocks

Sitting for a long period on a hard surface can trigger this. The bursa in the pelvis swells up in this case.

d) Hip

Hip bursitis is often the result of overuse, arthritis, injury, spinal abnormalities, or surgery. It is most common in women, the middle-aged, or the elderly.

e) Knee

Lack of stretching before exercise, being overweight, tight hamstring muscle, arthritis, or out-turning of the lower leg of the knee may cause this type of bursitis. The bursa located between the three tendons of the hamstring and the shin bone is affected in this case.

f) Kneecap

Plumbers, carpet layers, or people who have to sit on their knees a lot are the main victims of this type.

g) Feet

i) Anterior Achilles, also called Albert’s disease, is caused by an injury or by shoes with rigid back support. The bursa/sac in front of the tendons attached to the heel is inflamed.

ii) The Posterior Achilles tendon bursitis is also called Haglund’s deformity. This form of bursitis is caused by a certain type of walking which presses the soft tissue of the heel to the back of the shoe. This bursitis is located between the heel-tissue and the tendon which connects the calf muscle to the heel.

iii) Flat feet caused by worn-out or loose tendons due to aging, illness, or injury.

iv) ‘High arches’ could cause pain and swelling in your ankles and feet.


The bursitis of the foot is most common among runners and athletes. 14 to 42 percent of adults may be affected with bursitis foot pain at any one time.

  • Localized swelling of the heel as the sacs fill with fluids.
  •  Pain on the heel when touched, or when the foot is bent, or toes are flexed or stood upon.
  • A tenderness that increases when touched
  •  The joint may feel stiff and achy
  • The heel looks red and the skin feels warm. Often observed when the bursa is located under the skin.
  • Jumping motions, walking, running, wearing tight shoes or socks, lifting weights, or any activity which puts pressure over the affected bursa triggers pain
  •  Limited range of motion near the affected area.

Why Bursitis of The Foot Occur

1. Occupation

Jobs that require you to put pressure on a particular joint, or repetitive movements increase your risk of developing bursitis. Athletes, plumbers, carpet layers, tile setters, painters, gardeners can come down with bursitis.

2. Overuse

your feet are designed to handle a lot of stress. Being overweight and playing on fields, running, dancing, power walking, or jumping on hard floors stresses them even more.  Feet being under excess friction or repetitive impact motions are more likely to have bursitis.

3. Shoes

Footwear unsuitable for a certain sport or badly fitted ones in general, can cause it.

4. Lack of stretching

Not taking the proper time to stretch before exercise can cause bursitis. Amateurs not used to a strenuous workout routine are prone to developing bursitis.

5. Special conditions

Bursitis can happen to people with thyroid conditions, arthritis, or diabetes. The sacs surrounding the joints can wear out with age and existing irregularities in the foot can also be a factor. Wearing a bunion may also cause it as it affects the way pressure is spread over the foot. Though rare infections can also cause it.

6. Trauma/injury

Foot bursitis is often the result of an injury. Sudden rapid or twisting joint movements can also cause it.

Prevention is Better Than Cure

  • Warm up the tendons and muscles of your body and feet before any athletic activity will ensure blood flow and oxygen. Take things slow if you are getting accustomed to a new workout routine – give your body a little time to adjust
  • Use knee pads for cushioning and appropriate shoes if your job requires you to use a  joint frequently. Alternate the repetitive movement or take breaks to allow your tendons to stretch. Avoid being barefoot on hard or uneven surfaces as much as you can.
  • Choose the right shoes with a square or wide toe box, proper heel and arch support to match the contours of the feet, and proper cushioning. Wear shoes with padded socks.
  • Maintain the proper weight by exercising. It will also make your muscles stronger which in turn will protect the joints. . Use proper form when lifting weights.


Foot bursitis often gets better with conservative treatments. However, if the symptoms persist or get worse it is important to see a physician.

1. Home Treatments

    • Take a break – avoid unnecessary movements or activities like running or jumping.
    • Wear the right shoes or try a different one – wear shoes that fit properly and support the heels and arches.
    • Stretch – there are special stretches that may be used to relieve the pain. Stretch the muscles of the feet and tendons before any strenuous activity.
    • Ice the affected area – apply ice packs to the affected area ten minutes at a time, every two-three hours.
    • Use insoles or padded socks – Shoes are designed and manufactured to fit a wide range of people. Putting insoles can help fit shoes better and help with bursitis.
    • Massage your foot – though massaging is not recommended it may carry some benefits by increasing blood circulation. Elevating your foot can help as well.

2. Doctor-Prescribed Treatments

    • Anti-inflammatory medications
    • Painkiller to help with the pain
    • Foot surgery may also be prescribed if all the other methods have failed
    • Physiotherapy
    • Antibiotics may be referred if bursitis is caused by infection


1. How long does it take for bursitis to go away?

Ans. It may take a few days to several weeks to improve if the conventional treatments are followed. However, it can return if the activities that caused it are not changed. You will have to stretch and strengthen the muscles that surround the affected joint. A splint will be applied to immobilize the joint after surgery and it will take about 3 to 4 weeks to recover. Some individuals can even take up to 8 weeks to fully recover.

2. What foods should you avoid if you have bursitis?

Ans. Eating inflammatory food when diagnosed with bursitis can make the symptoms worse. Foods containing chemicals that may cause inflammation should be avoided, including –

  • Sugar
  • Diet soda or candy
  • Excess alcohol
  • Saturated/trans fats
  • Refined carbohydrates
  • Processed food
  • Omega-6 fats
  • Gluten

About the author

Benedikt Meyers

Benedikt Meyers is an accomplished executive with significant experience in global sales and marketing, product development, and supply chain for the apparel and footwear industries. He’s a skilled relationship builder who has lived in Asia for 10 years and visited the world to develop key alliances with industry partners in order to meet production and supply demands in ever-evolving markets.

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