Bursitis Foot Pain: Causes, Symptoms & Treatment Options

by Mark Paigen October 29, 2018

Your foot is equipped with its own cushioning system that helps reduce the impact of walking and running on hard surfaces. Your bursa is a fluid-filled sac that shields the bones and tendons in your foot from damage. If the bursa becomes inflamed from overuse or injury, you may experience pain, swelling, or bruising in your heel, arch, or metatarsal area (ball of foot). This is known as bursitis. Read on to learn more about bursitis foot pain, common causes, symptoms and treatment options. 

Common Symptoms of Bursitis In The Foot

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 things that can contribute to the development of bursitis foot pain. 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. Learn more about each:

Overuse Injuries

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.


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 a wide, square toe box and good heel and arch support. Be sure your shoes have adequate arch and heel support and proper cushioning as well. Consider using supportive insoles to replace the factory insoles in your shoes.

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 your doctor suspects you may have bursitis, they will examine your foot and ask you about the symptoms, how often you exercise, when the pain began, and your medical history. 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.

Note that bursitis foot pain is often confused with other foot conditions, including: plantar fasciitis, a heel spur, Achilles tendinopathy, Sever’s Disease, a trapped nerve, Haglunds’ deformity, or a stone bruise. Depending on the condition your doctor finds, they may refer you to a rheumatologist, orthopedist, or podiatrist.

Bursitis Foot Treatment Options

The good news about foot bursitis is that it can be easily managed with proper and prompt attention. Here are a few common bursitis foot treatment options:

  • 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 footwearthat fits properly and supports your heels and arches.
  • Consider foot surgery if all other remedies have been tried and your bursitis pain does not go away.
  • Use insolesthat support and cushion the heels and arches of your feet.

Tread Labs Insoles Can Help Ease Foot Pain

Podiatrists recommend firm support to improve alignment, control pronation, and deliver long-term comfort. Tread Labs offers medical-grade, semi-custom orthotic insoles in a variety of sizes and arch-heights. Our 2-part system features a medical-grade arch support and interchangeable top cover. The arch supports are guaranteed. Forever. Top covers can be replaced inexpensively.


Mark Paigen
Mark Paigen

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