While high heels may be the standard for fashionable women's shoes, their effect on the feet is anything but normal. Besides causing wearers to exert an abnormal amount of pressure onto the balls of their feet, pump-style shoes also can cause significant pain in the back of the foot. The root of this pain comes from a hereditary bone deformity that while not found in every foot, is fairly common.

Haglund's Deformity


Haglund's Deformity

Haglund’s deformity is a small bone spur located on the back of the heel. Discomfort occurs when the edge of the shoe irritates the bony deformity and creates a painful area on the back of the foot commonly referred to as a “pump bump”. "Pump bump" is typical in individuals who wear high heels almost every day. The rigid back of a pump-style shoe can create pressure that aggravates the heel bone when walking. Excessive rubbing as a result of walking in pump-style shoes can cause the bone in the heel to become irritated, which can result in Achilles tendonitis or bursitis.

Pump Bump

Problems Caused by Pump Bump

This protrusion on the back of the heel is not the only issue. More complicated lower limb problems arise when the bone spur touches the bursa in the heel or the Achilles tendon.

BursitisThe bursa, a small sac between bone and Achilles tendon, allows smooth movement between moving bone and tendon. Bursitis occurs when the bone pushes up against the sac, restricting movement. 

Achilles Tendonitis – Achilles tendonitis happens when the bone hits the Achilles tendon and results in inflammation of the tendon. 

goot pain heels

Treating Pump Bump

Those with high arches or tight Achilles tendons are especially vulnerable to developing "pump bump" if they frequently wear high heels. In most individuals, doctors can prescribe medications to reduce the pain and inflammation caused by high heels. This treatment is just for pain management and does not get rid of the bony protrusion. Icing the back of the heel reduces swelling, and stretching exercises can relieve tension in the Achilles, but the best solution if you experience pain is to avoid wearing high heels altogether, if possible. While "pump bump" cannot be reversed, patients can manage the pain by choosing comfortable footwear. If conservative treatments fail, the bony prominence can be removed through surgical excision.

shoe alternatives

Dress Shoe Alternatives

When the dress code requires high heels, patients who suffer from foot discomfort can try heel lifts to decrease pressure on the heel or wear appropriate dress shoes that have soft backs or are backless. If you are looking for a dress shoe that is work-appropriate and beneficial to your foot health, check out our podiatrist recommended styles at The Right Shoe! We can help you find the perfect fit that won't cause further pain.

Foot pain of any kind is not normal and should be assessed by an experienced podiatrist. If you suffer from pump bump, bursitis, or Achilles tendonitis, our team of experts can suggest ways to decrease foot pain and improve overall foot health! Contact us to make an appointment at any of our office locations.

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