We call them "pump bumps" but the medical term is Haglund's deformity: painful, swollen bumps behind the foot, just where the shoe heel rubs against the back of the ankle. This problem usually affects young women in their 20's and 30's who love their stilettos. It can also occur on athletes like hockey players.
It is also more common with people who:
- have high arches
- tend to put weight on the outer sides of the feet (overpronation)
- or have a tight Achilles tendon.
Pump bump has a medical term, retrocalcaneal (behind the heel bone) bursitis . It is also called a Haglund's deformity.
First it is just an irritation, but left untreated, a pump bump can turn into a real problem. What begins as simply a tender area responds to repeated injury by developing a fluid-filled sac that is inflamed, also known as a bursitis. All you know is that it hurts and you want to stop the heel pain.
What to do?
Home Remedies to Treat Pump Bump
The first actions involve immediate relief:
- take over the counter anti-inflammatory medication like ibuprofen
- switch to shoes without hard backs
- alternate cold packs with heat to relieve the swelling. Ice for 20 minutes up to every hour.
Heel lifts can lessen the strain on the Achilles tendon and help relieve foot pain.
This heel lift had better reviews on amazon.com:
Partial review on Amazon.com:
"One of the devices that came highly recommended was the ProStretch by Medi_Dyne. It basically recreated the long wall stretch I was already doing but because of the curved bottom, I didn't have to lean so far out and off balance. After searching locally and not finding one, I went back online and found that Allegro Medical sold the ProStretch as a vendor through Amazon.com at a very good price. Not being one to want to stay in pain any longer than I have to I ordered one and in a few days started doing the exercises that my doctor showed me, as well as some on the website I found and some that came with the ProStretch.
Within a few days the relief was incredible."
Helpful in foot ailments particularly plantar fasciitis, heel spur syndrome and post-op rehab.
"My girlfriend had a pump bump on her right heel, and since she didn't have medical insurance, had to explore other options. First she gave up high heels for awhile; I thought she would be upset but she was finally comfortable. A combination of using these products for a few months and the swelling did decrease. She still wears heels but not nearly as much."
At night you may find relief from wearing a splint.
Your podiatrist can determine the structure of your heel bone, and note if there are other factors at play.
A foot and ankle specialist can make custom orthotics for you, and is skilled at providing other alternatives, including padding and possibly injections. You may benefit from physical therapy, ice, prescription-strength topical pain relievers, non-steroidal anti-inflammatories, and possibly casting.
Relieving pressure on the heel for a couple of months can help the swelling go down. If you are still experiencing problems after a couple of months despite treatment you need to consult a professional.
Sometimes the only alternative is surgery to remove the bump. Recovery is usually uneventful, and your foot will look and feel much better.
What to expect if you have surgery:
1. How long will I be off my feet?
Usually you will be up the next day, albeit non weight-bearing. This type of surgery can have varying degrees of complexity. You may need to have surgery on the Achilles tendon as well. If this is the case be prepared for up to twelve weeks of recovery time.
2. Will I have to do anything special for my foot?
You may have a cast to immobilize the foot and ankle, then will need to wear a protective splint for the next several weeks.
3. When can I return to all regular activity?
Excessive activities like running will not be done for six to eight weeks; longer if the Achilles tendon was detached and reattached. If you are overweight or there are other health issues physical therapy may be prescribed.
4. Will it be painful?
You may be given a prescription pain reliever for use during the first day or two; after that a non-steroidal anti-inflammatory pain reliever should be enough.
The best pain relief is usually, again, the old standby RICE method: