If you have a bony growth on the back of your heel and the spot is swollen, painful, or callused, you may have Haglund's deformity. This podiatric condition occurs when a bony bump forms on the back of the heel bone, irritating the surrounding soft tissue and causing pain. Although this common foot problem can be very uncomfortable, it's also quite treatable. If you have Haglund’s deformity, it’s important to know the causes, risk factors, treatment options, and how the skilled podiatrists at Massapequa Podiatry Associates can help your feet feel better.
Sustained pressure on the back of the heel—such as from wearing shoes with rigid backs—can cause Haglund's deformity. As the bony lump develops on the rear of the heel bone, it can aggravate the nearby bursa. These tiny, fluid-filled sacs provide cushioning and reduce friction between bones and soft tissue. These heel lumps can also aggravate the Achilles tendon, causing painful swelling and inflammation. Additionally, blisters can form on your skin as the bony growth rubs against the inside of your shoes, making your feet even more miserable.
Your choice of footwear can play a big role in the development of Haglund's deformity. The condition is particularly common in women who frequently wear high heels and are sometimes called “pump bumps.” However, high heels aren't the only shoes that can increase your risk for Haglund's deformity; any type of shoe with firm, rigid backs can cause this condition, including men's dress shoes and ice skates.
Genetics and the shape of your feet can also contribute to the development of this uncomfortable and unsightly podiatric condition. For example, people who have high arches, tight Achilles tendons, or who tend to walk on the outside of their feet are more likely to suffer from Haglund's deformity than people without those characteristics.
Diagnosis and Treatment Options
Often, a discussion of your symptoms and a thorough examination of your feet are all it takes to diagnose Haglund's deformity. In some cases, X-rays, MRIs, or ultrasounds may be used to gain more information on the severity of the condition and the structure of your feet.
When Haglund's deformity causes only mild discomfort, it can often be successfully treated at home with rest, ice, and over-the-counter medications; by adding heel pads to shoes with stiff backs; or opting for shoes with soft backs or no backs (avoid open-heeled shoes if you have bunions, tendinitis, or other podiatric problems).
However, if pain persists or the growth gets bigger, it's a good idea to see a skilled podiatrist for assessment and treatment. Although care plans vary depending on factors that include the severity of the deformity and your symptoms, our recommendations may include:
- Topical or oral medications to reduce swelling and inflammation
- Boots or casts to immobilize the foot
- Rehabilitative exercises to relieve tension in the Achilles tendon
- Custom orthotics to alleviate pressure on the back of the heel and provide precise support and cushioning
While Haglund's deformity often responds well to conservative therapies, in cases where the pain is severe or the growth is sizable, surgery may be required to correct the deformity or reshape the affected heel bone.
Treat Your Feet to Fantastic Care
If pain and swelling in your heel are making daily tasks difficult and preventing you from doing the things you love, you may be suffering from Haglund's deformity. Don’t let podiatric problems stop you from living your best life. At Massapequa Podiatry Associates, our knowledgeable, experienced, and compassionate podiatrists can evaluate your condition and come up with a custom treatment plan that provides relief and results.