Is Your Painful Heel Bump Bursitis, Pump Bump, or Both?

by | Sep 2, 2016 | Heel and Arch Pain

Lumps and bumps at the back of the heel can, understandably, be concerning, especially when causing you pain. Although there are other, less common possibilities, two of the most frequent causes of bulging and swelling along the back of the heel are bursitis and Haglund’s deformity, also known as “pump bump.” So which do you have, and does it matter?

First, let’s set the scene. The back of your heel joint is a complex region. Here, amidst a number of other soft tissue structures, the Achilles tendon inserts into the heel bone, with a fluid-filled sac called a bursa positioned between them to provide cushioning and lubrication. Bursitis, then, refers to swelling and damage to the bursa sac, and it can be caused by a variety of different factors.

Haglund’s deformity is a little different. Friction and pressure from the tendon rubbing against the bone—possibly from frequently wearing hard-backed shoes, hence the “pump bump” moniker—can actually lead to a prominent enlargement of the bone itself via deposits of calcium.

The two conditions, while separate, are very much linked. The bony prominence of Haglund’s deformity can add pressure on the bursa, leading to inflammation, and an inflamed bursa allows calcium to build on the bone, enlarging the Haglund’s deformity.

One other difference: bursitis, being a soft tissue injury, can often be eliminated through conservative care. In time, the swelling can subside. However, while Haglund’s deformity symptoms can be managed through conservative care, the only way to remove the prominent bump is through surgery.

Whatever the cause, the best course of action for a painful heel is to contact the experts at the Kansas Foot Center. Early intervention can not only eliminate your pain faster, but prevent the formation or worsening of a deformity. To set an appointment, please fill out our contact form or give us a call at 866.222.5177.