The Center for Podiatric Care and Sports Medicine


Posted by on Thursday, July 26th, 2012


Sometimes a cranky part of your foot can get so angry that it generates not one, but two closely related conditions. That, my foot fan friends, is the kind of anger we’ll find today as we investigate the wonderful world of Haglund’s Syndrome AND Haglund’s Deformity.

Haglund’s? Wasn’t that a bar I used to hang out in back in the day? It certainly sounds like a name for your friendly neighborhood watering hole, but no, today we are talking about foot problems, particularly Haglund’s Syndrome and Haglund’s Deformity.

You said that already. Yes.

Do you want me too…? Please.

What is the difference between Haglund’s Syndrome and Haglund’s Deformity? I’m glad you asked! First, a small anatomy lesson–

Oh no, I’m really not in the mood. No, seriously, you’ll love this one, it’s easy. The Achilles tendon is attached to the calcaneous, or heel bone. Between the calcaneus and the Achilles tendon, there is a bursa, a small fluid-filled sac that allows the Achilles tendon to run smoothly over the calcaneus, without rubbing against the bone. When the bursa becomes irritated and inflamed, that is bursitis. When the tendon becomes irritated and inflamed, that’s Achilles tendonitis. When both are inflamed, that’s Haglund’s Syndrome.

That was indeed easy. How do I know I have this bursitis/tendonitis/Haglund’s Syndrome? You’ll feel pain in the back of your heel, especially when running uphill or on softer surfaces. There may be swelling. If you squeeze the back of your heel and feel a sort of sponginess, then that’s an inflamed bursa.

What causes it? Mostly shoes that rub against the back of your heel. This could come from poor-fitting running shoes or, very commonly, high heeled shoes that put a lot of pressure on the foot and rub against your heel with every step.

What do I do about it? Well, wear better shoes that don’t hurt your feet for starters. Ditch the painful pumps! (Or if they were expensive, earn back some of that by renting them!) Rest your painful heel as much as you can and apply ice a few times a day. You could take over the counter anti-inflammatories to help bring down the swelling. You can also put gel pads in the back of your shoe for relief from the rubbing that’s irritating the bursa and the tendon. If this doesn’t help, have a podiatrist at The Center for Podiatric Care and Sports Medicine (212.996.1900) check it out to prescribe a treatment plan. Ultrasound treatments, for example, have been very successful in dealing with Haglund’s Syndrome.

Didn’t you say something about a deformity? Yes! That’s part II. If you don’t treat your Haglund’s Syndrome, a bony bump will develop in the area of your Achilles tendon. This is informally known as a “pump bump,” because of its tendency to occur in women who wear bad high heels constantly (remember? we talked about this in the “causes” part). Calluses may also form over the bump.

What do I do about this? I don’t want to have a deformity on my foot, even one potentially named for a cool dive bar I used to visit. The best thing to do is avoid getting a Haglund’s Deformity. If you notice pain on the back of your heel, do something about it. If you do ignore it and develop the bump, though, you may need surgery. A podiatrist at The Center for Podiatric Care and Sports Medicine (212.996.1900) can determine which procedure is best for your condition.

Well, I hope you enjoyed this trip to the land of Haglund! Pay attention to the back of your heel and if you feel like your shoes are rubbing against your heel, stop wearing them!



If you have any foot problems or pain, contact The Center for Podiatric Care and Sports MedicineDr. Josef J. GeldwertDr. Katherine Lai, Dr. Ryan Minara and Dr. Mariola Rivera have helped thousands of people get back on their feet. Unfortunately, we cannot give diagnoses or treatment advice online. Please make an appointment to see us if you live in the NY metropolitan area or seek out a podiatrist in your area.