What is Haglund’s deformity, and what treatment options are available?

You may have noticed if you have a bony bump at the back of your heel bone, but did you know that this condition actually has a name? Haglund’s deformity, also known as “pump bump,” is a common condition in which the bony section of the heel becomes enlarged. Here’s what you need to know about Haglund’s deformity, including causes, symptoms, and treatment options, such as surgery.

If you’re looking for Haglund’s deformity treatment, our team at Arizona Foot Doctors will work with you to form a treatment plan best suited to your needs.

What is Haglund’s deformity?

Haglund’s deformity is a bony enlargement found on the back of the heel. When this enlargement rubs against the back of a shoe, the soft tissue located near the Achilles tendon becomes irritated. This condition is most commonly diagnosed in middle age, and it’s more prevalent in women than in men. Haglund’s deformity can also be mistaken for other types of foot pain, such as plantar fasciitis, retrocalcaneal bursitis, or seronegative spondyloarthropathies.

What causes Haglund’s deformity?

Haglund’s deformity is also known as “pump bump” because the backs of high heel shoes often exert pressure on the Achilles tendon. However, anyone can suffer from this condition. Some features that can make you more susceptible to Haglund’s deformity include:

  • A prominent heel bone that slants outward, causing it to rub on the backs of shoes
  • High arches
  • Tight Achilles tendons
  • A tendency to walk on the outside of the heel

In addition, specific types of shoes can increase your risk of Haglund’s deformity. Stiff winter boots, dress shoes, high heels and steel-toed work boots are most often linked to this condition, as they have rigid backs that cause friction and irritation.

What are the symptoms of Haglund’s deformity?

Haglund’s deformity can occur in one or both feet, and it can cause symptoms ranging from mild to severe. These include:

  • A bump on the back of the heel
  • Pain in the back of the heel while walking
  • Redness or swelling of the heel
  • Blisters or calluses where the bump rubs against the back of the shoe

Although a doctor may be able to diagnose Haglund’s deformity simply by discussing your symptoms with you and examining your heel, diagnostic tests may be needed to evaluate the condition of the heel bone. An X-ray or MRI can help a doctor determine which treatment option will best suit your needs.

What are Haglund’s deformity treatment options?

There are two main types of treatment options: surgical and nonsurgical. Nonsurgical treatment is the more common approach and focuses on reducing inflammation through medication, exercises, or shoe modification.

Podiatrists may recommend taking anti-inflammatory drugs, such as ibuprofen, to reduce pain and inflammation. You can also apply an ice pack to the inflamed area for 20 minutes to cut down on swelling. Be sure to keep your foot raised above the level of your heart, as this can reduce swelling.

Haglund’s deformity exercises are another great way to manage symptoms from the comfort of your own home. Stretching exercises have been shown to relieve tension caused by the Achilles tendon and can be especially effective for those who have a tight heel cord. The American Academy of Orthopedic Surgeons recommends the calf stretch, in which you lean forward with your hands against a wall while keeping one leg straight and the other in front of it with the knee bent. Push your hips toward the wall and hold for 10 seconds, and then repeat 20 times for each foot.

If you have high arches, you may find that placing heel lifts inside your shoe can decrease heel pressure when walking. On a similar note, ankle supports and shoe inserts can take unneeded stress off the tendon. You should also swap out your stiff shoes for backless or soft-backed shoes, as these can help reduce pain and irritation.

At Arizona Foot Doctors, we know your feet are unique. After a gentle evaluation and conversation with our podiatrists, we’ll prepare a treatment plan that fits your needs and lifestyle. Learn more & schedule an appointment today.

How do you know you need surgery for Haglund’s deformity?

If nonsurgical treatment fails to provide relief, Haglund’s deformity surgery may be necessary. However, the AAOS only recommends surgery if you’ve been experiencing pain for six months or more. If this is the case, your surgeon will examine your heel and determine the procedure that’s best suited for your condition.

Haglund’s deformity surgery aims to remove the part of the heel bone that sticks out or repair the Achilles tendon. The bone can also be filed down, minimizing the pressure on the bursa and surrounding soft tissue. After surgery, your doctor will give you a cast or boot to protect your foot. You can expect to completely recover in approximately eight weeks.

If left untreated, Haglund’s deformity can lead to a variety of complications. One of the most common is bursitis, which is the inflammation of a fluid-filled sac that leads to swelling and tenderness. You can also develop Achilles tendonitis above the area where the tendon attaches to the back of the heel, which can result in irritation.

How can you prevent Haglund’s deformity?

Fortunately, there are a few steps that you can take to prevent Haglund’s deformity from recurring. These include:

  • Wearing shoes with a soft back
  • Using arch supports or orthotic devices to prevent the heel from rubbing against the back of the shoe
  • Avoiding running on hard surfaces or running uphill
  • Regularly stretching and performing Haglund’s deformity exercises to keep the Achilles tendon loose and flexible

However, it’s important to keep in mind that Haglund’s deformity can sometimes be the result of a genetic foot structure that can’t be prevented with these methods. If you have relatives with Haglund’s deformity, you should avoid shoes that cause friction on the heel.

Contact Arizona Foot Doctors in Scottsdale

You shouldn’t ignore foot pain, no matter how inconsequential it may seem. At Arizona Foot Doctors, we perform a comprehensive evaluation to determine the root cause of your pain and to formulate a comprehensive Haglund’s deformity treatment plan tailored to your needs. The earlier Haglund’s deformity is caught, the better chance you have of minimizing pain and restoring function to your feet. Call Arizona Foot Doctors today to schedule an appointment.