Back Heel Pain: Haglund’s Deformity

Individuals who often wear shoes with a rigid back may find that heel pain develops with continued use. For some, this pain is more significant and involves a bump on the back of the heel. This bump, if left untreated, can develop into bursitis, an inflammation of the bursa sac in the foot joints. This is known as Haglund’s deformity. 

What Is Haglund’s Deformity?

Sometimes considered a mystery foot ailment, Haglund’s deformity occurs when the heel of the foot is overused and shoes constantly rub up against it. A bony overgrowth grows on the back of the heel, and the rigid backs of shoes rub up against it, creating inflammation. Although Haglund’s deformity is sometimes referred to as pump bump (due to high heels contributing to this condition), this heel pain can develop from any shoe with a rigid back.

How Does It Develop?

The Achilles tendon carries a great deal of weight and is under an enormous amount of stress. When this muscle becomes overused and repetitively inflamed, the body responds by “helping” the muscle by growing more bone over it. The back of the heel will become more squared off and change shape to accommodate the overuse of the tendon.

In rare cases, the tendon tears, and the bone can grow into the tendon. This type of deformity may take years to surface but will significantly affect an individual’s ability to walk and perform athletic exercises, such as running.

How Can I Avoid Haglund’s Deformity?

Wearing appropriate footwear and stretching are some of the most important ways to prevent developing this condition. Heredity also plays a role in how likely a person is to develop Haglund’s deformity. Individuals with the following conditions may be more likely to experience this condition.

I Think I Have Haglund’s Deformity… What Should I Do Next?

In many cases, Haglund’s deformity can be treated using non-surgical methods. If these options do not improve the condition, you may require surgery.

  • Over-the-counter medications may help reduce swelling and pain related to this condition
  • Some patients find relief by modifying shoes or inserting heel lifts or pads  
  • Stretching and physical therapy can help to loosen the tight muscles in the heel and connecting structures
  • For advanced cases, a cast   may be required for complete healing
  • Orthotics can reduce the rocking motion of the foot from side to side, providing relief for rubbing heels

A podiatrist will evaluate your condition and advise the treatment you should pursue for relief from Haglund’s deformity. Specific exercises may also help bring relief. Our staff at Best Foot Doctor understands the pain that injured heels can cause and how they can significantly affect a person’s life. We would be honored to have you entrust us with the care of your feet. If you have any questions or think you may have developed Haglund’s deformity, please call us today to schedule an appointment with our team.

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