Perfecting My Foot

Is 'Pump Bump' Causing Your Heel Pain?

If you are suffering from heel pain in one or both of your feet, figuring out the underlying cause of the pain can be difficult. A number of different problems and injuries can cause heel pain, such as Achilles tendinitis and plantar fasciitis. If your painful heel has a hard, noticeable lump, the pain may be caused by a condition commonly known as a 'pump bump'.

What Is Pump Bump?

A pump bump is more properly known as Haglund's deformity, and it frequently affects people who wear stiff, high-backed footwear, especially if the footwear does not fit properly. Stilettos and other high-heeled shoes are a common cause of pump bump, hence the name, but the condition can also be caused by motorcycle boots, ice skates, stiff men's formal shoes, or any footwear with a stiff back that places pressure on the back of the foot.

When a pump bump occurs, the excessive friction caused by the unsuitable footwear damages the tissues in the heel of the foot. This causes a hard, bony lump to appear on the back of the heel. This bump protrudes outwards, increasing friction between the heel and the footwear and causing the lump to grow even larger.

As you can imagine, a bony lump pressing against the back of your shoe can cause significant pain in the heel of the affected foot or feet. The swelling itself can cause painful inflammation and visible redness, and the friction created by the lump can cause the skin of the heel to become cracked and blistered. The heel pain can become severe if the bony lump starts to press on nerves or tendons inside the heel.

You may also unconsciously change the way you walk to take pressure off the affected heel(s). This sudden change in gait can cause other problems, such as painful knee and shin splints.

How Is Pump Bump Treated?

If you have a lump on your heel that is causing you pain, even if the pain is mild, you should visit a podiatrist as soon as possible to have the lump professionally examined. Other conditions can cause symptoms similar to pump bumps, including some rare forms of bone cancer, so it is important to have the lump diagnosed as soon as possible.

Once the pump bump has been diagnosed, your podiatrist can offer a range of treatments that can alleviate the pain and reduce the size of the bump. For starters, your podiatrist will almost certainly recommend a change of footwear. Switching from stiff-backed shoes to softer, more forgiving footwear will lessen the pain and take pressure off the bump, preventing it from getting any worse.

If the bump has grown to a substantial size, or you need to wear stiff-backed footwear for work or social engagements, heel pads and heel raisers can also help. These can be worn inside the shoes you wear regularly and will stop the damaged heel from pressing against the backs of your shoes, reducing pressure and inflammation.

For more severe cases of pump bumps, your podiatrist can create orthotic inserts for your shoes. These inserts are specifically crafted to fit the contours of your feet and will alter the shape of your feet while you walk, taking pressure away from the affected heel(s).

Taking the pressure off the bump and preventing the friction that causes it to develop will usually cause the bump to disappear over time. Your podiatrist can also provide over-the-counter medications, corticosteroid injections, and other treatments for more immediate pain relief.

For more information, contact a local heel pain relief clinic, such as Atlantic Foot & Ankle Specialists.