The most common cause of retrocalcaneal bursitis is overusing the heel and ankle area. A quick increase in physical activity or not warming up properly before exercising can both cause this.
Exercising in poor-fitting shoes or walking in high heels may also cause retrocalcaneal bursitis. If you already have bursitis, wearing these types of shoes can also worsen it.
In some cases, arthritis can cause retrocalcaneal bursitis. Rarely, an infection may also cause it.
Other possible causes include:
You might be more at risk for developing retrocalcaneal bursitis if you:
The risk of developing bursitis in this way is greater for those whose jobs or hobbies involve repetitive movements. Examples of this are carpet fitters and gardeners who spend significant time kneeling and therefore are more at risk of bursitis in the knee; likewise, runners have a greater likelihood of developing bursitis in the hip.
The main symptom of retrocalcaneal bursitis is heel pain. You might only feel pain when you put pressure on your heel.
Other symptoms may include:
Your doctor will examine your foot and heel to check for any signs of tenderness, redness, or heat. They may use an X-ray or MRI to rule out a fracture or more serious injury. In some cases, your doctor might take fluid from the swollen area to test it for an infection.
Retrocalcaneal bursitis usually responds well to home treatments. These include:
Your doctor may also recommend over-the-counter or custom heel wedges. These fit in your shoe under your heel and help raise both sides. They help reduce stress on your heels.
If home treatments and shoe inserts don’t help, your doctor may recommend a steroid injection if it’s safe to do so. They’ll consider the risks of a steroid into this area, such as rupture of the Achilles tendon.
Your doctor might also have you wear a brace or cast if you also have Achilles tendonitis. Physical therapy can also help strengthen the area around your heel and ankle. In rare cases, you might need surgery to remove the bursa if other treatments don’t work.
Make sure to contact your doctor if you have any of the following symptoms. These may indicate an infection in your heel:
There are a few easy steps you can take to avoid getting retrocalcaneal bursitis:
Strengthening your foot muscles can also help.