Below is a list of common signs and symptoms of retrocalcaneal bursitis. Recognizing and treating symptoms early can prevent retrocalcaneal bursitis from becoming chronic.
Swelling. The retrocalcaneal bursa is located behind the Achilles tendon, just above where the tendon attaches to the heel bone. When the bursa is inflamed it will cause visible soft tissue swelling near the top of the heel bone.
It is worth noting that bursitis of the retroachilles bursa, which is located between the Achilles tendon and skin, can manifest slightly differently: Swelling may be more distinct, appearing as a hard lump behind the heel. Retroachilles bursitis is also more likely than retrocalcaneal bursitis to cause the skin at the back of the heel to turn red.1
Pain and tenderness. Pain and tenderness usually develop slowly over time. Applying pressure to the back of the heel can cause pain. Wearing shoes may become uncomfortable. The back of the heel may feel achy. Pain is exacerbated when the foot is pointed or flexed, because the swollen bursa can get squeezed. A person with retrocalcaneal bursitis may feel pain when standing on their toes.
Fever. Fever or chills in addition to other bursitis symptoms can be a sign of septic bursitis. Though uncommon, septic retrocalcaneal bursitis is a serious condition, and patients should seek medical care to ensure the infection does not spread.
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Patients experiencing swelling, pain, and tenderness should treat symptoms to mitigate future problems. A doctor should be contacted immediately if the patient thinks symptoms may indicate septic bursitis.
See Septic Bursitis
- Van Dijk CN, van Sterkenburg MN, Wiegerinck JI, Karlsson J, Maffulli N. Terminology for Achilles tendon related disorders. Knee Surg Sports Traumatol Arthrosc. 2011 May;19(5):835-41. Epub 2011 Jan 11. PubMed PMID: 21222102; PubMed Central PMCID: PMC3076576.