Bursitis – inflammation of the bursa

A bursa is a small fluid-filled sac that helps cushion and lubricate your joints and bones. When the bursa becomes inflamed, it's called bursitis. With 33 joints in the foot, bursitis can occur in many different areas of the foot.

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What is bursitis?

In your foot, you have bursae – small fluid-filled sacs known as bursae. They act as cushions between bones and tendon/muscle attachments. Bursae protect the body’s joints from friction and pressure, facilitating movement. If they are subjected to prolonged pressure, there is a risk of inflammation in the bursa, called bursitis.

Common symptoms of Bursitis

With bursitis in the foot, it’s common to experience the following symptoms:

  • Pain when walking and running
  • Increased pain when standing on tiptoe or bending the foot
  • Swelling, redness, or stiffness in the joint
  • Pain with movement or touching of the joint

Why do you get bursitis in the foot?

Bursitis is often the result of injury or overuse of the foot. The risk of developing bursitis increases if your feet are subjected to direct pressure, such as wearing tight shoes or high heels. Additionally, repetitive movements like running or jumping and inadequate warm-up before exercise can increase the risk of bursitis. Symptoms can worsen from prolonged walking and standing on hard floors. 

Other causes of bursitis may include:

  • Haglund’s deformity, where a bone growth on the heel rubs against shoes
  • Inadequate warm-up or stretching before exercise or activities
  • Gout
  • Arthritis, thyroid disorders, or diabetes
  • Infections, although this is rare

Treatment of bursitis

Usually, bursitis heals on its own within a few weeks. You can speed up the healing process by reducing the load on the bursa and the affected joint.

Here are some tips on what you can do on your own:

  1. Use proper footwear:
      •  Wear comfortable, properly fitted, or athletic shoes with orthotic inserts that support your arches and align them to a neutral position.
      • Shape your shoes by stretching them to reduce pressure on the bursae.
      • Avoid shoes that are tight or cause prolonged pressure on your feet.
  2. Rest and relief:
      • Take a break from painful activities and elevate your foot to reduce swelling.
      • Avoid standing or walking on hard floors for extended periods.
  3. Stretching and exercises: Perform stretching exercises, especially for the calf muscle and arch of the foot.
  4. Medication: Take anti-inflammatory medications.
  5. Use of shoe insoles: Use orthopedic insoles.
  6. Cortisone injections: In some cases, cortisone injections may be considered. Consult with your doctor.

Preventive measures

You can prevent bursitis in the foot by doing the following:

  • Use properly fitting shoes with heels that are not too straight or worn out. Choose shoes with good cushioning and ample room for the toes.
  • Warm up thoroughly before exercising.
  • Avoid walking barefoot on hard, uneven, or rocky surfaces.