You slip on your favorite heels. They suddenly feel tight or uncomfortable. You reach to the back of your pumps and notice a new bump on your heel. And you wonder…

What is that bump on the back of my heel? Why is it there and how can I get rid of it?

Well, in our Houston podiatry practice, we often see women with bumps on the backs of their heels. In fact, it happens a lot. That's why we talk about them as ‘pump bumps.’ But men can also develop this condition. Which is medically referred to as a Haglund’s deformity.

Luckily, we can treat this condition in our podiatry office. But early intervention is important. Because that's how we prevent your Haglund’s deformity from growing larger. So give us a call for an immediate appointment. And keep reading to learn more about this common foot condition.

What is a Haglund’s Deformity? A bumb at the base of your Achilles tendon could be Haglund's deformity

If you have a Haglund’s deformity, it means that the bony part of your heel became enlarged. (That bone section is called the calcaneus. It's connected to your calf muscles by your Achilles tendon.) Because of the enlargement, your calcaneus bone creates a bump in your soft tissue.

At first, you may not notice discomfort. But, as the bump grows, it may rub against your shoes. This can leave you with heel pain. Often, your Haglund’s deformity also leads to bursitis. (That’s when the sac of fluid between your bone and tendon gets inflamed.)

Then, once bursitis develops, your heel also gets inflamed. This can trigger more calcium to build up in your heel bone. Which, in turn, can make your Haglund’s deformity larger. For this reason, early treatment for your Haglund’s is important. But, before we treat the bump, we first have to know why it developed.

What causes Hagland’s Deformity?

Abnormal pressure on the back of your heel causes this bump to form. But that pressure can come from several different places. So your podiatrist will perform a thorough exam and medical history when you come in with a bump. That way, we can figure out the pressure source causing your Haglund’s deformity to develop.

Poor Shoe Choices

High Heels can cause Haglund's DeformityVery often, a Haglund’s deformity forms when your shoes are too tight. (Stiff-heeled shoes can also put too much pressure on your heel bone.) Because high heels are about looks alone, this is often a stiletto-lovers problem. Which is why, as we noted earlier, this condition is also called a ‘pump bump.’

High Arches 

Studies suggest that people with high arches tend to develop Haglund’s deformity. This may also be why we think of Haglund’s deformity as a hereditary condition. Which means that, if your mom or dad had a bony heel bump, chances are high that you’ll get one as well.

Tight Achilles Tendon

When your Achilles tendon is tight, it may become inflamed. Once inflamed, it puts more pressure on your calcaneus bone. And that may trigger abnormal bone growth.

Now, running puts pressure on your calf muscles and Achilles tendon. So we often see Haglund’s deformities form when people bump up their training. Which means you may notice a new bump on your heel while training for your next big race or marathon.

Haglund’s Deformity Symptoms

The most obvious symptom of Haglund’s deformity is a bony bump on the back of your heel. Then, with this condition, you may also notice:

  • Extreme heel pain
  • Redness and inflammation around the bony bump
  • Bursitis in your heel
  • Pain with wearing shoes with a closed heel

Diagnosing Haglund’s Deformity A foot x-ray can help diagnose Haglund's deformity

We may diagnose this condition with a physical exam. But Haglund’s deformity symptoms look like other foot conditions, including Achilles tendonitis. So you may need more screening for an accurate diagnosis.

If a physical exam isn’t enough, an x-ray can help determine your Haglund’s deformity diagnosis. Since, with this condition, your heel bone sticks out. And that will be obvious on an x-ray.

Haglund’s Deformity Treatment

Non-surgical Treatment for Haglund’s Deformity

We can often treat the symptoms of Haglund’s deformity with conservative interventions. While these won’t remove your bony bump, they can offer pain relief. And help you get back to your daily routines.


Often, the pain of Haglund’s deformity is a result of your bump rubbing against your shoes. If you have soft tissue inflammation around the bump, the pain will be worse. For that reason, icing your Haglund’s deformity can offer pain relief.

With this condition, we’d recommend daily icing. Typically, you’d apply the ice for up to 20 minutes, two to three times per day. This should reduce the swelling and make it easier to wear your shoes without pain.

Oral Anti-Inflammatory Medication

This treatment can work in conjunction with ice, or on it’s own. You can use non-steroidal anti-inflammatories (NSAIDs) such as aspirin or ibuprofen. They should help the swelling go down. And the over-the-counter drugs can also help control your pain.


If your bump isn’t too large, we can also place pads on the inner heels of your shoes. This will prevent the pain that comes when your Haglund’s deformity rubs against your shoes.

Custom Orthotics

When structural abnormalities contribute to your bump, orthotics can take off the pressure. While this won’t get rid of your bump, the orthotics may prevent further bone growth.

Surgical Treatment for Haglund’s Deformity

When non-invasive treatments don’t offer pain relief, you may need surgery for Haglund’s deformity. There are several approaches we may take during surgery. One option is to remove the bump on your heel bone.

In some cases, we may just smooth down or file the bone. This will still leave you with a smoother heel profile. But it may lead to an easier recovery. The choice we will make together depends on the severity of your condition. And the underlying cause of your Haglund’s deformity.

Following surgery, you’ll need to keep weight off your affected foot. Depending on your surgery and bone stability, you may use a surgical walking boot. In some cases, we’ll suggest a knee scooter instead. Now, this immobilization period won’t last forever. But healing from foot surgery can take up to eight weeks. So be prepared to make some tweaks to your schedule following surgery.

Come in to get Your Haglund’s Deformity Treated

Right now, that little bump on your heel might not seem like a problem. But here’s what I can promise you. If you ignore a Haglund’s deformity, you’re likely to develop heel pain. Bursitis and inflammation may also become a problem.

Want to avoid more complications? The only way to do so is to request an appointment online, or to call our office at 713-785-7881 for quick pain relief. The sooner you come in, the more likely we can take a non-surgical approach to your Haglund’s deformity treatment!


Dr. Andrew Schneider
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A podiatrist and foot surgeon in Houston, TX.