You can develop heel pain for a variety of reasons, most of which are not easily visible from the outside of the foot. When you have a pump bump, however, you know exactly what is uncomfortable and why. This lump on the back of your heel bone can make it painful to wear many types of shoes and walk around.
Medically known as Haglund’s deformity, the hard bump is a swollen, bony protrusion on the back of your calcaneus, or heel bone. It becomes inflamed under pressure. Typically the rigid backs of dress shoes and high heels rub against the bulge and aggravate it, giving rise to the nickname “pump bump.” This enlarges it and makes the condition worse.
The shoes aren’t necessarily the cause, however. Your foot shape and biomechanics frequently play a role. High arches, flat feet, and walking on the outside edge of your heel contribute to the protrusion. A tight Achilles tendon pulls on the heel and may also cause a problem.
Watch the Signs and Symptoms
Usually Haglund’s deformity is a visible lump on the back of your foot. It may appear red and swollen around the aggravated area. The lump will feel hard, though it may or may not be tender to the touch. Usually it’s most uncomfortable near the area where the Achilles tendon attaches to the calcaneus. The bump may be prone to blisters and callus formation as well.
Sometimes complications like bursitis arise, too. The bursa that protects your tendon from your heel bone can become pinched between the bony enlargement and whatever is pressing on the back of your foot. Over time, this may inflame the bursa and cause additional pain.
Managing the Pressure
To eliminate the discomfort, you will have to reduce the pressure on your heel bone. First you will need to have the Haglund’s deformity accurately diagnosed so you can receive targeted treatment. Our doctors will carefully examine your heels to eliminate other possible causes. They may request diagnostic images to get a clearer picture of the bump on your heel. Then our team of highly-trained staff will work with you to determine the best plan for treating the condition.
To reduce the pressure on your heel, you most likely will need to change your footwear. Avoid shoes with rigid backs, raised heels, and insufficient arch support. These can all add strain and pressure to the calcaneus. Pads to protect the back of your foot will reduce some of the friction there as well. You may also need orthotics to protect your hindfoot and correct any mechanics that may have contributed to the problem.
Lessening the inflammation around the pump bump will help relieve the pain. Icing the heel helps discourage irritation and swelling. We may recommend medicines as well. Sometimes physical therapy makes a difference, especially if your Achilles tendon is too tight. If these conservative therapies do not help improve your condition, you may need to consider surgery to remove the bony protrusion altogether.
Haglund’s deformity causes heel pain that can limit your shoe choices and make walking around in footwear more difficult. However, with a little care, you can eliminate the pain and protect your bones. Don’t wait until you’re limping around to seek help. Request an appointment with Country Foot Care by calling our offices or by submitting a request for an appointment online by clicking on the MAKE AN APPOINTMENT button at the top of this page.