Treating and Preventing Pump Bump

So you woke up after a night out of fine dining at Pacifica Seafood Restaurant in Palm Desert, followed by entertainment at the Coachella Valley Repertory Theatre, and now you have pain in the back of your heel? It’s possible that your heel pain stems from your choice in footwear from the night before!

There are a variety of potential causes for the heel pain you are experiencing.

Depending on where you experience it, the pain could come from plantar fasciitis (if pain is on bottom of the heel and strongest with first steps of the day) or Achilles tendinitis (if you are active and the pain is in the back of the heel and stronger during or immediately following physical activity).

Another possible cause is Haglund’s deformity, commonly referred to as pump bump. This condition often goes hand-in-hand with an enlargement (the “bump”) on the back of your heel from a bone spur.

The excess bone tissue irritates the soft tissue near your Achilles tendon when pressed against the back of your shoe (which can be the “pump,” since this is often associated with high-heeled footwear).

You can think of this as almost literally being a “between a rock and a hard place” situation.

If you have developed this condition, you likely want to find relief from the heel pain. Fortunately, there are a variety of conservative, nonsurgical treatment methods that can help. Several of these can be performed at home, including:

  • Ice. You can help relieve pressure and swelling in the area by icing it for 20 minutes, waiting 40 minutes, and then icing again. In addition to decreasing the swelling and inflammation, this will ease the pain you are experiencing.
  • Exercise. It may seem counterintuitive to use activity when you are in pain, but a contributing factor to the condition may be a tight Achilles tendon. Stretching this heel cord can relieve tension and make you more comfortable.
  • Medication. Always consult with our office before using medicine, but over-the-counter medications like ibuprofen and other nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) may effectively reduce your pain and inflammation.

Naturally, wearing properly-fitting footwear that features soft backs can also help the situation.

Depending on your case, professional treatment might entail the use of custom orthotics, heel lifts, or pads. Orthotic devices control foot motion, which can relieve pressure from the back of the heel. Lifts are able to reposition the foot, whereas pads provide extra cushioning (as you’d likely expect).

Another potential treatment option is our advanced laser therapy – which is proven to relieve pain from many different foot and ankle conditions and injuries!

We don’t want you to experience the heel pain that accompanies this ailment in the first place, so here are some easy tips to help prevent it:

  • Make smart shoe choices. Ill-fitting and uncomfortable footwear leads to many foot and ankle conditions we treat regularly. When you wear shoes that are too narrow, too tight, and have rigid backs, you are setting yourself up for injuries like Haglund’s deformity. Instead, opt for footwear that is comfortable, provides room in the toe box, and has cushioning in the heel area. Save the pumps for special, rare occasions!
  • Wear socks that provide ample cushioning. You can help reduce the pressure on the back of your foot with socks that properly cushion your heel. Even better is when your socks have non-slip soles to keep your feet from sliding back within your shoes.
  • Limit your time spent running uphill. When you run uphill, your feet will press against the back of your running shoes with greater force. There is value in training on uphill courses, but do so sparingly.
  • Stretch your feet and calf muscles regularly. When you keep your Achilles tendon limber, it reduces the likelihood of pump bump. As an added benefit, it also decreases your risk of several other common foot conditions like Achilles tendinitis and plantar fasciitis!

Preventative methods may help keep pump bump at bay, but contact our office if you have already developed this condition. We have options to help you find the pain relief you deserve!

Remember, foot pain is not normal!

If you are experiencing pain from Haglund’s deformity—or you have developed any other foot or ankle problem that depletes your quality of life—contact our Palm Desert office by calling (760) 568-0108. If you’d prefer, take a moment and contact us online right now!
Dr. Harvey Danciger
Dr. Harvey Danciger is a podiatrist and foot surgeon in Palm Desert, CA specializing in the foot and ankle
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