Name that Pain: Tendonitis and Bursitis

Share This Post

The autumnal equinox has officially passed, meaning we are heading steadily into fall. It’s getting darker earlier and generally cooling down. This is good news for runners, since the temperature drop tends to make better running conditions. The temperatures won’t matter for your run if you have heel pain, though. Not all heel pain is caused by plantar fasciitis, either. In fact, tendonitis and bursitis can cause just as many painful problems for your running routines.

Tendonitis and bursitis are different conditions that create similar symptoms in your lower limbs. Both cause pain in the back of your heel bone that tends to worsen when you’re active. Both make it unpleasant for you to rise up on your toes. Both also make your hindfoot sore, red, and tender to the touch. As similar as they can seem, however, they are not the same.

Heel pain from tendonitis is caused by irritation in the Achilles. This tendon attaches your calf muscle to the heel bone, allowing your foot to move. Overuse can cause the tendon to stiffen and tighten. Usually you feel the discomfort in the back of the leg and directly above the heel. The affected area may feel swollen and warm.

Heel bursitis, on the other hand, is inflammation in the bursa sac. This fluid-filled pouch sits between your bones and soft tissues that my rub against your skeleton, lubricating and protecting both. You have one sitting between part of your Achilles and your heel bone, so that your foot moves smoothly. Too much pressure on this sac irritates it. The swelling that results can make the back of the heel bone feel spongy and painful to press against.

Telling the two apart typically needs some tests to determine which structure is affected—your Achilles, or the or the bursa. Once the problem is diagnosed, you can begin actively treating it. Start with the RICE method: rest, ice, compress, and elevate. This helps relieve the tension on the back of the foot and decrease inflammation. Physical therapy stretches and targeted, non-invasive procedures manage the pain in tendon or the bursa, too.

There are several possible causes for your heel pain. If you’re struggling, let our Country Foot Care team help you identify and treat the specific problem. To make an appointment simply call our offices to speak with one of our helpful staff.  For those who would like to request an appointment online, you can click on the MAKE AN APPOINTMENT button at the top of this page.

More To Explore

heel pain

What Causes Heel Pain?

Heel pain is one of the most common reasons for chronic pain in adults and children. It can be caused by many factors including wearing shoes that are too tight.

Podiatrist blog from Country Foot Care on Long Island, NY

What are Common Sports-Related Foot Injuries?

Athletes who take part in sports that require running and jumping are more likely to get knee injuries. An ACL injury, which is a torn anterior cruciate ligament in the