Bursitis of the heel is swelling of the fluid-filled sac (bursa) at the back of the heel bone.
A bursa acts as a cushion and lubricant between tendons or muscles sliding over bone. There are bursas around most large joints in the body, including the ankle.
The retrocalcaneal bursa is located in the back of the ankle by the heel. It is where the large Achilles tendon connects the calf muscles to the heel bone.
Repeated or too much use of the ankle can cause this bursa to become irritated and inflamed. It may be caused by too much walking, running, or jumping.
This condition is very often linked to Achilles tendinitis. Sometimes retrocalcaneal bursitis may be mistaken for Achilles tendinitis.
Risks for this condition include:
Starting a very intense workout schedule
Suddenly increasing activity level without the right conditioning
Pain in the heel, especially with walking, running, or when the area is touched
Pain may get worse when rising on the toes (standing on tiptoes)
Red, warm skin over the back of the heel
Your health care provider may recommend that you do the following:
Have physical therapy to improve flexibility and strength around the ankle. This can help the bursitis improve and prevent it from coming back.
If these treatments do not work, your provider may inject a small amount of steroid medicine into the bursa. After the injection, you should avoid overstretching the tendon because it can break open (rupture).
If the condition is connected to Achilles tendinitis, you may need to wear a cast on the ankle for several weeks. Very rarely, surgery may be needed to remove the inflamed bursa.
This condition most often gets better in several weeks with the proper treatment.
Call your health care provider if you have heel pain or symptoms of retrocalcaneal bursitis that do not improve with rest.