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Bursitis in Foot Symptoms

Bursitis in Foot Symptoms

Why does Foot Bursitis Happen

Bursitis may result as a consequence of many physical traumas such as a direct foot fall, slips, accidents and even sport related injuries. But bursitis of the foot occurs particularly due to the irritation caused from repetitive use and at times overuse of the foot during prolonged running or standing. If you aren’t familiar with the term bursa then, bursas are small sacs filled with fluid that act as a cushion between bones and other parts of the body, such as your skin, tendons and muscles.

One significant causative factor of foot bursitis could be the pressure applied to an area over a bursa when boots are worn too tightly. Other than this, any gait or foot abnormalities such as an unusual toe joint, flat feet, hammer toes or over pronation could place further pressure on the bursa, ultimately leading to bursitis.

When the metatarsal heads are rotated slightly, the structures and tissues lying between them are pinched due to a pronation of the foot. As this pinching becomes chronic, a bursa may be naturally created to protect the surrounding area. On its own, this isn’t a problem, but it becomes fairly risky when the friction continues, resulting in an enlargement of the bursa, besides further swelling.

Another contributing factor of foot bursitis is the wearing of inappropriate footwear during high- impact walking, running or jumping activities. Inappropriate footwear may look harmless, but what it secretly does is, it increases the amount of shock that the bursa must absorb during the aforementioned intense activities. Obesity in a person does nothing less than creating a similar negative impact on the bursa as well.

Overall, the reasons which may inflict foot bursitis are:

  • Wearing shoes with a bad fit, or shoes that are not typically used during sports activities
  • Repeatedly jumping, running or participating in other ballistic movements
  • Walking on high heels for a long period of time
  • Not properly stretching and warming up the calf muscles or Achilles tendon preceding exercise
  • A Haglund’s deformity
  • Medical conditions such as diabetes, gout, rheumatoid arthritis or thyroid disorders
  • Bunion
  • Infections

Bursitis In Foot Symptoms And Treatment

symptoms of bursitis

Some common symptoms the body gives out in order to express traits of  bursitis are:

  • Pain as the joints move
  • Stiffness, swelling or redness around the joints
  • Heat radiating from the aching area
  • Sharp pain during running or walking
  • Greater pain linked with standing on the tip toes or while bending the foot.

How to diagnose bursitis

During the diagnosis, the doctor will examine your foot and later ask you about the pain and when or how it began. In addition to that, be prepared to talk about your daily activity level, routine and your medical history. You must consider the doctor as your friend and refrain from hiding any details of your day to day activities in order to receive the best diagnosis.

Other than these, you may have to face the following questions:

  • What type of exercises do you usually get?
  • What kind of sports do you take part in?
  • Do you spend a large amount of time standing at work or do you work in repetitive motions?

Other tests that your doctor will perform may involve a test to confirm whether you have any fractures or other injuries. Looking for a Haglund’s deformity isn’t uncommon either. These tests may involve:

  • X-ray
  • Ultrasound
  • MRI
  • Blood tests
  • Taking samples of fluid from the bursa to find any possible gout or infection.


With the help of conservative treatment alone at home, the majority of the people with foot bursitis were able to recover in time.

Self-care practices such as the ones below are included in the conservative treatment primarily:

  • Take breaks: take ample rest and keep your foot at an elevated position. Activities that even temporarily put your heel in pain should be avoided.
  • Wearing the correct shoes and socks: always put on shoes that support your feet appropriately besides cushioning your heel. They must also be of the perfect size. Socks made from synthetic fabric are highly recommended while wearing athletic shoes.
  • Stretch: one important recommendation from the doctor would be to exercise and stretch in order to heal your foot. This stretching may involve contracting and relaxing your calf muscles and a number of other specific stretches.
  • Taking medication: drugs that are anti-inflammatory such as naproxen, ibuprofen and aspirin are available over the counter or through doctor’s prescription.
  • Ice: as per doctor’s recommendations, you can use ice on the aching foot.
  • Using inserts inside shoes: the doctor may prescribe shoe inserts or orthotics like heel cups or arch support in order to remove pressure off the heel.
  • Trying out different shoes: if the pain seems unbearable, try using shoes with an open back.
  • Getting your foot massaged: usually, massaging an area of bursitis is never recommended. But by avoiding the exact point of pain and massaging the remaining areas of the arch or even as far up the legs or your calf may be far beneficial due to the benefit of increased circulation. Elevating your foot is equally effective.

In case your pain remains severe, doctor’s may inject cortisone into your heel. However, this has some risk of ripping apart your Achilles tendon.

Usually, a surgery is rarely required. But, if the condition of the injured bursa doesn’t improve after six months or a year, in order to improve the injury, doctor’s might recommend surgery.

How to prevent bursitis

No one would agree that foot bursitis is like walking on a bed of roses. For some, it can even be excruciatingly painful. But the good news is that there are multiple ways to prevent heel bursitis pain from recommencing:

  1.   Right fitting shoes: improper fitting of shoes could be one of the biggest causes of bursitis. In case of athletic shoes, they should provide sufficient cushioning and support to your heel area. It’s also important to ensure that the heels aren’t worn down.
  2.   Padded socks work like a miracle in preventing bursa from forming and also protecting your feet.
  3. Before all exercises and sports activities, invest a good amount of time in stretching the calf muscles and Achilles tendons.
  4.   Walking barefoot should be avoided like the devil when it comes to hard, rocky or uneven terrains.
  5.   If you walk on treadmills for fitness, don’t forget to curb the stress on your heels by changing the level of incline.
  6.   Make sure that you maintain a healthy, ideal weight. Lessening the load off your  body will leave you surprised how light you feel on the heels, and not to mention how the pain significantly reduces on the affected joints such as the hips and knees.


1. Are there bursitis home remedies?

Home remedies such as the ones stated below can help to relieve your bursitis pain at home:

  • Don’t overuse the affected area and rest adequately.
  • When there’s a swelling in the first 48 hours since the appearance of the symptoms, apply ice to reduce the swelling.
  • Taking a warm bath or applying a dry or moist heat from a heating pad brings comfort to the red, swollen area.
  • Taking over the counter medications like Advil, Motrin or other ibuprofens or naproxen sodium reduces pain and inflammation. Some are even available in an ointment/lotion form to apply directly on the skin.
  • If you are comfortable sleeping on your side, place a small pillow between your legs and cushion your knees.

2.How often is follow-up needed after treatment of bursitis?

After seeing the doctor, try to avoid the factors which initiated bursitis in the first place. Use knee pads or wear different shoes during kneeling for activities or work. Keep the affected area as elevated as possible and rest and apply ice on it for at least twice a day.

Regarding follow up visits to the doctor, taking an appointment once a week is fine. However, if the bursitis turns infectious, a follow up visit in three to four days is sufficient for receiving the doctor’s opinions, evaluations and to carry out any possible removal of fluid.

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