How to Treat Bursitis in the Foot

How To Treat Bursitis Foot Pain

by Mark Paigen 6 minute read

More common than you might think, bursitis foot pain may affect up to 42% of adults at any one time. If you have it, all you want is relief from the pain it causes, especially during walking or running. Getting relief from bursitis in your foot will have a big impact on your daily activities and quality of life, so don't wait to start treating it.

The Basics ---

  • Your foot has a bursa, the fluid-filled sac that shields bones and tendons from damage. If your bursa becomes inflamed, a condition known as bursitis, you could have pain, swelling and bruising in your foot. 
  • Common causes of bursitis are overuse injuries, ill-fitting footwear and biomechanical irregularities in the foot.
  • To manage bursitis, incorporate rest, ice, elevation and stretching into your routine. High-quality footwear that fits well, coupled with insoles that support and cushion the heels and arches of your feet will help relieve your foot bursitis pain.
  • We recommend Tread Labs Pace insoles to help relieve and prevent bursitis of the foot. Pace are part of the Pain Relief series and offer firm, flexible arch support.

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What You Need To Know ---

What Is A Bursa?

Your foot is equipped with its own cushioning system to help reduce the impact of walking and running on hard surfaces. Orthopedic Surgeon and Sports Medicine Specialist, Dr. Jeffrey Tedder, explains, "The bursa is a fluid-filled sac that’s located around joints to help them function. When these are inflamed or irritated, it’s called bursitis, and can decrease the amount of motion in the joint."

If the bursa in your foot becomes inflamed from overuse or injury, you may experience pain, swelling, or bruising in your heel, arch, or metatarsal area (ball of foot). 

What Does Foot Bursitis Feel Like?

Common areas impacted by bursitis
  • Heel, arch, or metatarsal pain
  • Redness or warmth anywhere on the bottom of your foot
  • Swelling of the heel or arch
  • Pain that is worse when you flex your toes or bend your foot
  • Tenderness that increases upon touch

What Causes Bursitis?

There are many factors that can contribute to the development of bursitis foot pain, however the most common cause of foot bursitis is the overuse or improper use of your foot’s muscles, bones, and tendons. Other common causes include the use of ill-fitting footwear and other biomechanical issues in your feet.

Overuse Injuries Can Cause Bursitis In Foot

Repetitive activities like jumping, dancing, power walking, or running can lead to foot bursitis. This can be especially true if you don’t take the time to stretch and warm-up your body—especially your feet—prior to exercise. Always spend time stretching your body and feet prior to athletic activities to ensure your muscles and tendons are warmed up, with proper blood flow and oxygen.

If you are not accustomed to strenuous activity, take things slowly when you first begin a new exercise regimen. While you may (and should) be enthusiastic about your healthy new routine, your body needs time to adjust to the new demands. Pacing yourself in the beginning is an important step in becoming fit and avoiding injury.


Ill-fitting footwear is another culprit when it comes to bursitis. If you regularly run, jump, dance, or spend many hours at a time on your feet, be sure your footwear has:

Biomechanical Irregularities In The Foot

Sometimes, bursitis foot pain can be caused by an existing foot irregularity, like Haglund’s deformity—a bone spur that can develop on the heel. The bursa can become inflamed as it tries to cushion the heel and the spur from impact.

Other conditions that may cause or contribute to bursitis include problems with thyroid levels, infections, arthritis, or diabetes. These medical conditions can be life-threatening if left untreated, so it is important to see a physician if you have symptoms of bursitis in your foot.

How is Bursitis of the Foot Diagnosed?

If you're having foot pain, you'll want to see a medical provider to get properly diagnosed. Because bursitis foot pain is often confused with other foot conditions like plantar fasciitis, a heel spurAchilles tendinopathy, Sever’s Disease, a trapped nerve, Haglunds’ deformity, or a stone bruise, your doctor will need to do a thorough exam.

According to the American Podiatric Medical Association, you can expect your doctor to ask questions about what type of exercise you do, what type of sports you participate in, and whether your job involves standing and/or repetitive motion.

To rule out an underlying illness, injury, deformity, or bone fracture, your doctor may order an X-ray, ultrasound, MRI, or blood work. If they suspect an infection, they may remove some fluid from the bursa to test it for gout. Depending on the condition your doctor finds, they may refer you to a rheumatologist, orthopedist, or podiatrist.

How to Treat Bursitis in the Foot

The good news about foot bursitis is that it can be easily managed with proper and prompt attention. A few common bursitis foot treatment options include rest, ice, elevation, stretching, a change in shoes, and adding insoles to your footwear.

  • Rest your foot whenever you experience pain.
  • Ice the affected area for 20 minutes every hour.
  • Elevate your foot when sitting or lying down.
  • Avoid activities that involve running or jumping until your foot improves.
  • Consider a weight management program if you are overweight. This will help you get fit and reduce the amount of pressure on your feet when you walk or run.
  • Undertake new athletic activities slowly working up to your goal-levels a little at a time.
  • Take time to stretch the muscles and tendons in your feet and Achilles prior to undertaking any strenuous physical activity, including running, dancing, jumping, standing for a long time, or speed-walking.
  • Wear quality footwear that fits properly and supports your heels and arches. If the heels of your shoes are worn down, replace them. The American Academy of Podiatric Sports Medicine recommends wearing padded socks made from synthetic fabric.
  • Consider foot surgery if all other remedies have been tried and your bursitis pain does not go away.
  • Use insoles that support and cushion the heels and arches of your feet.

If you're an athlete suffering from bursitis in your foot, you're not alone. Foot bursitis is especially common among runners. Start by cutting back on your training until the pain goes away. You'll also want to incorporate stretching and strengthening exercises into your routine, with particular focus on your Achilles tendon. 

Can Insoles Help Foot Bursitis?

Because footwear manufacturers design their shoes to fit the widest range of people, the vast majority of shoes have minimal arch support. Footwear makers do this because they expect that people who need additional arch support will add an insole. Insoles with firm arch support can help relieve bursitis foot pain.

You'll get the most out of your footwear by replacing the factory inserts that come in your shoes with firm, supportive insoles. To get the most out of the arch support insoles you're adding to your shoes, look for ones that:

  • Come in multiple arch heights. Arches vary in height, and for an arch support insole to work, it needs to mimic the contours of your feet. That's why one size fits all arch supports don't work. Find insoles that come in your arch height.
  • Offer medical-grade support. The cushioned or gel ones might feel good at first, but they just don't offer the firm support you need for long-term pain relief and prevention.
  • Are built to last. Just about all insoles come in one piece, with the arch support and top cover as one. That means when the top cover wears out, you have to replace the entire insole. It's not friendly on your wallet, and it's not friendly to reducing waste. Tread Labs insoles feature a unique two-part system that allows you to replace your top covers whenever you need, while keeping your arch support for life.

Podiatrists recommend firm support to improve alignment, control pronation, and deliver long-term comfort. Insoles are a small investment in good lifelong foot health. Add them to your footwear and reap the benefits.

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