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Haglund's Deformity

Haglund's deformity is a bony enlargement on the back of the heel. In Haglund's deformity, the soft tissue near the Achilles tendon becomes irritated when the bony enlargement rubs against shoes.

Haglund's deformity can occur in one or both feet. The signs and symptoms include:

  • Heal bone is painful, red, swollen and/or irritated.
  • Inflammation of the Achilles Tendon may also occur.

For example, high arches can contribute to Haglund's deformity. The Achilles tendon attaches to the back of the heel bone, and in a person with high arches, the heel bone is tilted backward into the Achilles tendon. This causes the uppermost portion of the back of the heel bone to rub against the tendon. Eventually, due to this constant irritation, a bony protrusion develops and the bursa becomes inflamed. It is the inflamed bursa that produces the redness and swelling associated with Haglund's deformity.

A tight Achilles tendon can also play a role in Haglund's deformity, causing pain by compressing the tender and inflamed bursa. In contrast, a tendon that is more flexible results in less pressure against the painful bursa.

Another possible contributor to Haglund's deformity is a tendency to walk on the outside of the heel. This tendency, which produces wear on the outer edge of the sole of the shoe, causes the heel to rotate inward, resulting in a grinding of the heel bone against the tendon. The tendon protects itself by forming a bursa, which eventually becomes inflamed and tender.

Haglund's deformity can be treated with ice packs or by wearing sensible shoes. Heel pads, grips and foot orthotics (special insoles) are also good methods of relieving pain. However surgery can sometimes be required where the bone has become enlarged and inflamed, followed by cast immobilization.

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