Haglund's Deformity

Written by Shannon Johnson | Published on July 9, 2012
Medically Reviewed by George Krucik, MD

What Is Haglund’s Syndrome

Haglund’s syndrome is a deformity of the foot. It is also known as “pump bump.” The condition arises when the bony section of your heel, where the Achilles tendon is located, is enlarged. Wearing shoes then puts pressure on the tissue at the back of your heel and causes inflammation. Eventually, this can lead to bursitis.

Bursitis is an inflammation of the fluid-filled sac that separates the tendon from the bone. When the heel becomes inflamed, it can lead to the calcification of the heel bone. This causes the bump to become even more prominent and increases your pain.

Haglund’s can develop in anyone. However, it is most common in people that wear stiff, closed-heel shoes, and in active children between the ages of 5 and 15.

How Does Haglund’s Syndrome Develop

Haglund’s is the result of frequent pressure on the backs of your heels. It may be caused by wearing shoes that are too tight and stiff in the heel.

People have different levels of risk for Haglund’s. Risk depends on the shape of the heel bone. Therefore, the condition tends to run in families.

What Are the Symptoms of Haglund’s Syndrome?

Haglund’s syndrome is very painful. It can develop in one or both feet.

Symptoms of Haglund’s include:

  • a very noticeable bump on the back of the heel
  • severe pain in the area where the Achilles tendon attaches to the heel
  • swelling in the back of the heel
  • redness near the inflamed tissue

How Haglund’s Disease Is Diagnosed

Haglund’s can be difficult to diagnose because the symptoms are similar to other foot issues like arthritis (Sofka, et.al, 2006).

Sometimes doctors can diagnose the condition by the appearance of the heel. If Haglund’s is suspected, you may receive an X-ray of your heel bone. This will help your doctor determine if you have the prominent heel bone associated with the disease.

Your X-rays may also help your doctor shape orthotics to relieve your heel pain. Orthotics are customized shoe inserts made to stabilize your foot.

How Is Haglund’s Treated?

Treatment for Haglund’s usually focuses on relieving pain and taking pressure off the heel bone. Non-surgical options include:

  • wearing open-heel shoes, such as clogs
  • NSAID pain relievers, like Tylenol
  • icing for 20 to 40 minutes a day to reduce swelling
  • iontophoresis, which uses a weak electrical current to help anti-inflammatory drugs penetrate the skin
  • ultrasound treatments
  • moist heat
  • soft tissue massage
  • orthotics
  • heel and cushion pads to reduce pressure from shoes

Surgery can also be used to treat this condition if less invasive methods fail. During surgery, the doctor will remove the excess bone from your heel. The bone may also be smoothed and filed down. This reduces the pressure on the bursa and soft tissue.

After surgery, it will take up to eight weeks for you to heal. Your doctor will normally provide you with a wooden shoe or cast to protect your foot. You may also need to use crutches for a few days.

The cut will remain bandaged for seven days. Within two weeks, your stitches will be removed. Doctors will X-ray your foot on follow-up visits to ensure it is healing properly.

How to Prevent Haglund’s Syndrome

You can reduce your risk of Haglund’s by taking good care of your feet. Try to:

  • avoid shoes with tight, stiff heels
  • wear shoes without backs
  • wear fitted, padded socks with non-slip soles
  • perform stretching exercises to prevent tightening of the Achilles tendon
  • avoid running on hard surfaces or uphill
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