The back of the heel bone is easy to take for granted. It’s just one small spot on your foot, after all—yet as the place where your Achilles attaches to your foot, it is important. Pressure and strain on the back of your heel can cause a number of problems for your lower limbs, including contributing to a hard bump known as Haglund’s deformity. This protrusion, in turn, can make wearing shoes uncomfortable and lead to additional heel pain problems.
Forming the Bony Bump
Haglund’s deformity is a bony protrusion that develops under pressure. Strain and friction against the back of the heel irritates and aggravates the bone tissue. Consequently, the bump enlarges. The heel swells and becomes painfully inflamed as well, and your skin may appear red when you look at it. The result is a hard, bony bump on the back of your foot. This bump may make it painful to wear some shoes, and even contribute to additional heel issues like bursitis and Achilles tendinitis.
Plenty of culprits can produce the pressure and friction on the back of your foot that causes this deformity, but one of the most common causes is actually your footwear. The stiff backs of certain shoes can pinch, press, and rub the back of your heel bone. Pumps are particularly notorious for this, which gives rise to the condition’s other name, “pump bump.”
Natural foot issues can contribute to the problem as well. An oddly shaped heel bone, high arches, or tight Achilles may increase your risk for this condition, since they can add to the strain on the back of your lower limbs.
Treating Haglund’s Deformity Pain
The good news is that Haglund’s deformity is relatively easy to diagnose and treat. Dr. Sanjay Patel and our team at Family Foot Care & Surgery, LLC will examine your heel to determine if the bony lump really is a pump bump or something else. The exam might include diagnostic images like X-rays to see the bone clearly. Once the condition is diagnosed, you can begin conservative care.
For the vast majority of people, conservative methods take care of the problem. The key is to reduce pressure on the back of the foot while alleviating swelling and inflammation. Most likely you’ll need to make shoe changes to relieve heel stress. Avoid high heels and dress shoes or other styles with stiff backs. Stick to soft-backed and supportive shoes instead. Wearing pads or orthotics for better support and cushioning may be necessary. Footwear without a back may be helpful for this as well.
Ice the back of the foot to reduce swelling and inflammation. Stretches can alleviate stiffness and tightness in the Achilles. In extreme cases, you might actually need your foot to be immobilized to allow the irritation to go down. Only very rarely is surgery ever needed.
Preventing the Pump Bump Problem
Of course, you can also take steps to prevent Haglund’s deformity from forming in your own heels. You simply need to reduce the pressure and strain on the back of your foot. Protect your heels from stiff-backed shoes like pumps, either by avoiding them all together or using special pads to cushion them while limiting your time wearing that footwear. Stick to supportive, cushioned styles that protect your heels. Stretch your Achilles regularly to prevent it from getting too tight. If you have high arches or are prone to heel pain problems, you may need to use orthotics for better support for your feet.
Haglund’s deformity is more common than you might think, but that doesn’t mean you have to live with the heel pain. Let our experts at Family Foot Care & Surgery, LLC help you eliminate the discomfort in the back of your foot. The longer you wait, the more the problem interrupts your life and increases your risk for added issues. Instead, call our Connecticut offices today for more information or to schedule a consultation. Call (203) 876-7736 for our Milford location, or (203) 288-4055 for our Hamden office. You can also reach out to us through our online forms.