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Retrocalcaneal Bursitis

Retrocalcaneal bursitis (also known as ankle bursitis or Achilles tendon bursitis) is a condition in which the retrocalcaneal bursa, a small cushioning sac between the heel bone and the Achilles tendon, becomes inflamed.

Ankle bursitis is usually caused by overuse or repetitive movements of the ankle, so it is especially common in athletes. It can, however, also be caused by a direct impact injury or by forms of inflammatory arthritis, such as gout or rheumatoid arthritis.


The most common signs and symptoms of ankle bursitis are:

  • Pain and irritation in the heel and back of the ankle area of the foot.
  • Stiffness, decreased ability to rotate the ankle, or limping.
  • Redness, warmth or swelling on the back of the heel.

If the ankle bursa should become infected, you may also experience a fever.


The most common treatments are nonsurgical and include:

  • Resting your ankle. The most important thing to do is to stop activities that caused or contributed to your symptoms.
  • Icing the ankle for 15 to 20 minutes, several times a day to decrease inflammation. (Icing should be done only during the first few days, when the inflammation is new.)
  • Taking anti-inflammatory medications, such as NSAIDs or corticosteroid injections.
  • Getting physical therapy, which may include massage, heat application and/or therapeutic ultrasound (not to be confused with diagnostic ultrasound – a form of imaging).
  • Performance training, such as ankle stretches and strengthening exercises.
  • Changing the types of shoes you wear or wearing orthotics (special shoe inserts).
  • Wearing a temporary cast, brace or boot.

Rarely, severe cases may require you to have a bursectomy (surgery to remove the bursa).

For more information and a list of HSS doctors who treat retrocalcaneal bursitis explore the content below.

Retrocalcaneal Bursitis Success Stories

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