Bumps on Bones and Pain in Your Heels

It goes by a lot of different names: Haglund’s deformity, retrocalcaneal bursitis, Mulholland’s deformity, Mauer’s bump, and pump bump. What they all refer to is an enlargement at the back of your heel bone (calcaneus) that can end up causing you a lot of pain. There are two aspects of the overall condition: the growth of the bone itself, and the damage to the tissues that surround it. The various names seem to be used interchangeably to describe one or both. Some background will help you understand this condition better.

Why Is There a Bump on My Heel?

Haglund’s deformity forms for many reasons, one of which is an inherited foot structure. Certain characteristics put you more at risk for developing such a bump, such as a high arch structure, a tight Achilles tendon at the back of your ankle, or a gait that has you walking more on the outside of your foot and heel. Pressure on the heel bone causes it to create extra cells to protect itself, forming a bump or enlargement similar to a bone spur.

Other causes include weight gain that may affect how your foot functions, injuries, or activities that affect your foot structure or the state of your Achilles tendon and calf muscles. For example, wearing heels all day every day can cause your Achilles to tighten up and pull harder on the calcaneus where it is attached, and running on hills a lot could change the way your calf muscles function. These can change your foot biomechanics and lead to the enlargement of the heel bone.

Why Does the Bump Hurt?

Every time you move your foot, the bump rubs against your shoes, especially certain styles. Pumps are a shoe style going back centuries and are characterized by their lack of straps or fastenings. They are held on simply by their snug fit—much as a piston, or pump shoe, fits closely in a well shaft. The combination of tight fit and rigid material at the backs of these shoes puts pressure, friction, and pain on the heel. Not only the bump itself but also the nearby soft tissues can hurt. The bursa, a sac of jelly-like fluid that acts as a cushion between your Achilles tendon and your calcaneus, can become swollen, inflamed, and painful—pump bump has set in.

What Can I Do for the Pain?

You can try some home care remedies, like icing the painful area and changing the type of shoes you wear. Something softer or looser that doesn’t rub against the bump, and shoes with lower heels that allow your Achilles to stretch out may be helpful. You can also avoid running on hills or wearing stiff rollerblades or skates for a while.

If the pain and swelling don’t go away in a day or two, come in to Atlantic Foot & Ankle Associates and let our podiatrists examine your feet and use any imaging tests to help us form an accurate diagnosis. There are many other non-surgical treatments we can try to alleviate your discomfort. We can prescribe pain relievers or anti-inflammatory medications, set up physical therapy or show you exercises you can to do recondition your tendons and muscles, and fit you with heel lifts, heel pads or custom orthotics to pad the area and correct any faulty biomechanics in your feet. In some severe cases, a boot or cast may be worn to keep the area immobile while it heals.

Call Atlantic Foot & Ankle Associates at one of our five locations and set up an appointment with James Rust, DPM, Andrew Green, DPM, Dennis McBroom, DPM, Sona Ramdath Jr., DPM, Laura Walton, DPM, or Hilaree Milliron, DPM. We can be reached at the numbers below, or by requesting an appointment on our webpage. We will find the best way to relieve your pump bump and prevent future occurrences.