What You Should Know (and What You Think You Know) About Pump Bump

by | Dec 18, 2018 | General Foot Care, Heel and Arch Pain

We will admit that a lot of foot and ankle conditions aren’t very clear-cut based on name alone. “Neuroma” sounds like a Marvel villain, and “plantar fasciitis” sounds almost like something you’d put out to spruce up your landscaping.

It’s no real surprise, then, when nicknames are given to certain problems. “Haglund’s deformity” doesn’t really tell you much. “Pump bump,” however, is much more user friendly.

Is it really the best term to be using, though? To answer that, let’s first establish just what you may be dealing with if you have a “pump bump.”

What is Haglund’s Deformity?

A Haglund’s deformity will be found along the back of the heel. It will look and feel like a bony enlargement in that area because, well… that’s exactly what it is. The section where this lump grows is around where the Achilles tendon connects to the heelbone.

As the soft tissues in this section become irritated, it creates opportunities for calcium deposits to form against the back of the heel bone, building the bump.

As this bump grows, it creates more irritation—especially if you’re wearing certain types of footwear. In addition to the bump, you might also experience:

  • Redness in the area.
  • Pain where your Achilles tendon attaches to your heel.
  • Additional swelling due to irritation.

pump bump

So Do Pumps Cause Pump Bump?

In a way, yes. But they are far from the sole factor at play.

“Pump bump” likely became the common name for this condition due to how prevalent it is in women who wear rigid pump shoes. Young women in their late teens and ‘20s tend to experience it quite often.

However, this fact leaves out a lot of other reasons, as well as around half the population. Yes, men can develop Haglund’s deformity, too. Any type of hard-backed footwear that creates pressure and irritation against the back of the heel can cause the enlargement. Men’s business shoes and ice skates are included on the list.

Anyone can develop this painful bump, so referring to it using only one form of footwear does feel pretty exclusive.

There are other, more natural risk factors that can contribute to your likelihood of developing Haglund’s deformity:

  • Having high arches.
  • Having a tight Achilles tendon.
  • Tending to walk on the outside of your heels.

These kinds of tendencies are often the result of heredity. If members in your family have Haglund’s deformity, you should be aware of whether you have any of the above factors (and also lay off the hard-backed shoes).

What Can Be Done About Haglund’s Deformity?

Before we can start to take action against Haglund’s deformity, we must confirm that this is what’s causing your trouble.

Since the condition develops where the Achilles tendon connects to the heel bone, it can sometimes be difficult to discern from Achilles tendinitis and other related issues. We may perform an X-ray of your heel to confirm whether any growth has been occurring on the bone.

Once we have a full understanding of the situation, our first recommendation is almost always trying conservative measures to manage the condition. The primary goal at this point is not to get rid of the bump itself, but to relieve the pain and swelling it causes.

There are many conservative measures one can take to find daily relief. You will, undoubtedly, need to avoid footwear with rigid backs no matter what. Softer materials or open-backed shoes will be much more comfortable and less likely to irritate.

(Some places will recommend clogs, which are definitely effective. We can help you discover other suitable alternatives if these are not your thing.)

If an abnormality in your foot shape or gait is at play, the use of custom orthotics may also be recommended. These will be specifically designed to balance the distribution of weight through the foot and take excess pressure away from the back of the heel, if needed. 

Other forms of conservative treatment can include:

  • Heel pads to remove pressure from shoes.
  • Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDS) such as Advil, Motrin, or Bufferin, to reduce swelling and pain.
  • Applying ice to the area one or more times per day.
  • Soft tissue massages, or advanced treatments such as laser therapy.

ice pack on foot

If the above forms of managing Haglund’s deformity don’t provide the results we would like to see, then surgery may then become an option.

A surgical procedure may involve removing the excess buildup of bone from your heel, as well as filing down and smoothing out the remaining area. If the condition has caused damage to your Achilles tendon, it might be repaired as part of the surgery.

Before undergoing any form of surgery, we will make sure to confirm our recommendations and discuss all available options with you thoroughly. Surgery is never a choice to make without having all information at hand.

Recovery from surgery typically takes up to 8 weeks, although mileage varies from patient to patient. You will likely have to wear a boot or cast and use crutches for up to a few weeks.

Help for All Hurting Heels

Regardless of whether your source of heel pain is Haglund’s deformity, Achilles tendinitis, or one of a multitude of other ways our feet find to cause us grief, you can depend on the experts at The Kansas Foot Center to set you on the right path to recovery.

Scheduling an appointment at our Wichita or Newton offices is easy. Simply give us a call at (866) 222-5177. You can also fill out our online contact form to have a member of our staff respond to you.