It may not look like much, but there’s a lot going on at the back of your heel. The Achilles tendon (the longest and strongest in your body) inserts here, and between that tendon and bone sits a small sac of soft tissue, known as a bursa, which helps everything glide smoothly when you walk and run.
Unfortunately, the area can easily be irritated. Bother it enough, and an outgrowth of bone may begin protruding forward, causing pain in your heel. This is called Haglund’s deformity, and it can be quite a nuisance. You might know the condition by its less formal name—“pump bump.”
Symptoms and Complications
We’re not talking about a pimple here—the bump itself can be very noticeable visually, and it makes its presence known with pain in your heels. You may notice swelling and redness surrounding the site, and the larger it gets, the more difficult it will be to avoid rubbing it against the back of your shoes and irritating it further. You may even get blisters on your heel due to the friction.
Where Did This Bump Come From?
There’s a reason people call it a pump bump, of course: it’s especially common among those who frequently wear shoes with a rigid back or heel cup—women’s pumps, for example, or men’s dress shoes, ice skates, or other firm-backed footwear. These types of shoes can place a lot of extra pressure and stress on the area where tendon, bursa, and heel bone come together, causing a bony growth to form in response.
You can’t blame it all on fashion, however: heredity plays a role, too. If you have a tight Achilles tendon you’re more susceptible, and the same goes for those with unusually high arches who tend to walk more on the outside of their feet.
How is Haglund’s Deformity Treated?
When it comes to treating a case of Haglund’s deformity, Harvey Danciger, DPM always starts with non-invasive, conservative care, moving on to more aggressive forms of treatment if they become necessary. Although conservative care won’t reduce the size of the bone growth itself, it may be able to alleviate your pain and soft tissue swelling.
The root cause of your problem will help guide the treatment approach and determine what measures might be most effective for your situation. If you have high arches, custom orthotics or insoles that provide extra support and correct gait flaws can relieve pressure on the protrusion. Other shoe modifications, including heel lifts or cups or protective padding, can also do the trick. Meanwhile, if constant pulling from a tight Achilles is to blame, you may get extra benefit from stretching exercises and physical therapy designed to loosen the tendon and strengthen supporting muscles.
Of course, when pain is particularly acute, get off your feet for a while and use ice or anti-inflammatory medications we may recommend to fight the swelling. If you’re suffering from pump bump from, well, wearing too many pumps, you should consider switching to softer-backed shoes.
If these methods still do not resolve heel pain from Haglund’s deformity, then surgery to remove the bony outgrowth is the next option. If it gets to that point, we’ll select a method appropriate for your condition.
Don’t Put Up with Pump Bump Pain
There’s no reason to keep suffering if you’re dealing with this painful condition, especially since so many cases can be dealt with effectively without surgery, using simple tools or lifestyle modifications. Let Harvey Danciger, DPM, assess your condition and help you get back to looking and feeling your best. Call our office in Palm Desert at (760) 568-0108, or contact us online to set up an appointment with Palm Desert’s top foot doctor today.
Photo Credit: David Castillo Dominici via FreeDigitalPhotos.net