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Ankle Bone or Joint Injury

Retrocalcaneal Bursitis Advice

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Posted 1 year ago


Last updated: 03/12/2022


by James McCormack

Retrocalcaneal Bursitis vs Achilles Tendonitis

Retrocalcaneal Bursitis affects the bursa at the back of the heel bone, while Achilles Tendonitis is a condition affecting the Achilles Tendon.

Bursae are sacs of fluid whose primary function is to act as a cushion between tendon and bone. When they become irritated through excess friction or compression, they can become inflamed and swollen, known as Bursitis. The largest bursa at the back of the ankle is the Retrocalcaneal Bursa, and when it is inflamed, it is referred to as Retrocalcaneal Bursitis.

The Achilles Tendon can become painful and inflamed if it is suddenly overloaded through impact activity such as running. The inflammation of the tendon is known as Achilles Tenonitis. The Achilles tendon crosses over the Retrocalcaneal Bursa, which is why they are often confused. In addition to this, it is possible to have both conditions at the same time.

Retrocalcaneal Bursitis Taping

Retrocalcaneal Bursitis taping is usually carried out using KT Tape. The patient lies on their front (prone) and holds their foot in dorsiflexion. KT Tape is attached to the underside of the calcaneus and stretched up and over the Achilles Tendon. The second piece of KT Tape is placed horizontally over the Retrocalcaneal Bursa.

Some patients find Retrocalcaneal Bursitis taping provides pain relief, but there is little evidence to support this.

What is the fastest way to heal Retrocalcaneal Bursitis?

The fastest way to heal Retrocalcaneal Bursitis is to follow these steps:


  • Reduce your step count as much as possible
  • Take anti-inflammatories
  • Ice your heel for 10-15 minutes, 3-4 times daily
  • Wear a heel raise when walking or standing
  • Avoid impact activity

Can you walk with Retrocalcaneal Bursitis?

Yes, you can continue to walk with Retrocalcaneal Bursitis. We recommend short, frequent walks of 30 minutes rather than walks of 45 minutes or more. Avoid undulating or uneven surfaces and wear shoes with a high heel drop cushioned.

If this is not possible, consider placing a heel raise in your shoe for pain relief.

Can I run with Retrocalcaneal Bursitis?

If you have mild to moderate symptoms of Retrocalcaneal Bursitis, you can continue to run as pain allows. You should stop if your pain gradually increases during your run and apply our home treatment recommendations afterwards.

Choosing a running shoe with a high heel drop can help with the symptoms of Retrocalcaneal Bursitis when running. If you have severe Retrocalcaneal Bursitis when running, we recommend that you stop and have a consultation with a medical professional such as a Physical Therapist.

How long does Retrocalcaneal Bursitis take to heal?

Under a Physical Therapist’s guidance, Retrocalcaneal Bursitis takes 4-6 weeks to heal. In severe cases, it takes 3 months for Retrocalcaneal Bursitis to heal.

Should you stretch Achilles Bursitis?

We recommend a combination of offloading, a heel raise, isometric strengthening and Achilles Tendon Stretching to help Achilles Bursitis.

Should you massage heel bursitis?

Heel Bursitis is a result of inflammation and swelling in a bursa. The causes of heel bursitis can be friction, compression or impact on the area. With that in mind, applying direct pressure to the area is more likely to be detrimental than beneficial for Heel Bursitis.

If you have Heel Bursitis, we recommend foam rolling the calf muscles and then stretching them rather than directly massaging a bursa.


Physiotherapy with James McCormack

This is not medical advice. We recommend a consultation with a medical professional such as James McCormack. He offers Online Physiotherapy Appointments for £45.

Related Article: Retrocalcaneus Bursitis: Symptoms and Treatment

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