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What Is Heel Bursitis And Can Custom Orthotics Help?

Heel Bursitis is an inflammation of a bursa (a fluid-filled fibrous sac) under and around the heel bone, causing pain in the center or back of the heel where the achilles tendon inserts and significantly worsening during the day.

Bursae are fluid-filled sacs that cushion muscles, tendons, and joints. They are found where tendons, skin, and muscle tissues meet bones. The lubricant they use helps to reduce friction during movement.


Bursitis is an inflammation of your bursae. Inflamed bursae cause pain and discomfort in the affected area. They also limit the ways you can move your joints.

There is only one naturally occurring bursal sac in the foot. The Achilles tendon and the heel bone are connected by this sac (calcaneus). However, in response to the constant "micro-trauma" that our feet experience when we walk, the body creates bursal sacs to protect areas of the foot where trauma occurs. If the trauma persists, the bursal sac (which has formed to protect the foot) becomes inflamed, and the condition develops.


Heel bursitis is associated with three types of bursitis. There are three types of bursitis: retrocalcaneal bursitis, subcutaneous (or Achilles) bursitis, and subcalcaneal (or Plantar Calcaneal) bursitis.

  • Retrocalcaneal Bursa

The retrocalcaneal bursa is a fluid-filled sac that lies between the Achilles tendon and calcaneus, or heel bone. The bursa functions to reduce friction when the foot moves in relation to the calf muscles, which are attached under it. It also helps with absorbing shock as well as maintaining body temperature by allowing heat generated from muscle activity on one side of its membrane to dissipate into tissue on the other side of its membrane.

  • Subcutaneous Calcaneal Bursa

Subcutaneous calcaneal bursa is a small fluid-filled sac connected to the skin and deep tissues of your heel. It can become inflamed or infected which may result in pain, inflammation, redness, tenderness and swelling at the back of your heel.

  • Subcalcaneal Bursa (Plantar Calcaneal Bursitis)

Subcalcaneal bursa (plantar calcaneal bursitis) is a bursa located between the heel bone and the plantar fascia (thick fibrous tissue that inserts into the heel bone). The symptoms of plantar calcaneal bursitis can be very similar to those of plantar fasciitis. A dull ache under the heel, directly beneath the fat pad, is usually felt by the athlete. Subcalcaneal bursitis is more common in the center of the heel than plantar fasciitis (heel spur) and significantly worsens during the day.

How Do I Know If I Need Orthotics?

Insoles, footbeds and orthotics are all terms used to describe these products. There aren't many people who have perfect feet. In other words, almost everyone could benefit from wearing a pair of orthotics. It's possible that orthotics will help some people more than others based on their individual needs, however. Find out if orthotics are right for you by reading on.



Five Signs You Need Orthotics


  • You Stand for More than Five Hours a Day

Inflammation of the plantar fascia as a result of prolonged standing or walking can lead to plantar fasciitis. Located at the bottom of your foot, the plantar fascia is a ligament that extends from your heel to your toes. Using orthotics can help relieve the strain that standing all day puts on your feet.

  • Your Shoes Are Worn Out

Peek at your shoes to see what kind of tread they have. If your shoe tread is worn out on one side more than the other, it may indicate that your foot is rolling inward (also known as pronating) or turning outward (also known as supination) (also called supinating.) Supination or pronation of the feet can be corrected with orthotics.

  • You Have No Arch or a High Arch in Your Foot

Regular shoes may not provide your feet with the necessary support if you have very high or low arches. Orthotics can help provide support that regular shoes do not.

  • You Have Severe Pain in Your Foot or Heel

While this may seem self-evident, many people avoid foot pain. Instead, they attribute the discomfort to wearing high heels or uncomfortably tight shoes. Plantar fasciitis is commonly characterized by foot or heel pain, particularly in the morning.

  • You Just Had an Injury on a Lower Limb

If you've recently had a hip, knee, leg, or ankle injury, it could be affecting the amount of pressure you put on your feet. As a result, your walking style will be affected. Orthotics may be able to assist you in correcting your gait.

Remember, The 3 Arches of Your Feet Still Need Support!

Maybe you have already felt the first symptoms of balance disorders or you want to prevent them from appearing in the first place. Consider getting a foot orthotic device or simply take care of your feet. Start by washing them thoroughly with a gentle soap whenever you take a shower. Being a very complex support system, your feet are your first line of defense against balance-related issues, since their arches provide you with the stability you need in your daily life. It’s time to put your foot down and push back against balance issues. With both feet on the ground, dedicate yourself to keeping them comfortable and healthy. Give us a call and we will scan your feet to make you custom orthotic inserts.


The Shoe Doctor has specialized in providing custom orthotics for 20 years. The right orthotic insoles can greatly reduce foot, knee and hip pain while increasing performance and comfort. Russell at The Shoe Doctor will help educate and assist you in finding the perfect solution for your particular situation. We will create a 3D map of your feet and make custom orthotics for your hiking boots, everyday shoes, and everything else in between. These orthotics, along with our expert advice, will get you using orthotics like a pro, and have you performing at the peak of your abilities in no time!  If you are in the San Francisco Bay Area, give The Shoe Doctor a call to get the best custom orthotics in the area! We are here to assist you, schedule your free consultation here!