Your Aching Feet: How Kicking Off Those Pumps Can Save Your Heels

It's no secret that your feet take a beating when you wear high-heeled pumps. Wearing pumps regularly can cause red, swollen, painful heels. Over time, this inflammation can develop into a noticeable lump on the heel, sometimes referred to as a "pump bump."  If your favorite shoes are causing you to suffer from the dreaded pump bump, the foot doctor will examine your feet and discuss your symptoms to determine the best course of treatment.


The rigid back or ankle strap on a high-heeled shoe puts pressure on the heel. The tissue around the Achilles' tendon becomes irritated and the fluid-filled sac between the tendon and the heel bone becomes inflamed. This painful inflammation is called bursitis, and it is the first step in the development of pump bump, also known as Haglund's deformity. Continued pressure and inflammation in the heel cause the tissues to thicken and form a bump.

Risk Factors

While anyone who wears high-heeled pumps regularly is a candidate for pump bump, some people are more likely to develop the bump due to the anatomy of their foot. High arches and tight Achilles' tendons increase the risk. Also, people who walk on the outside of the feet are more likely to develop Haglund's deformity.


Your foot doctor can offer some treatment options to help relieve the pain and pressure in your heels. Ice and anti-inflammatory medication will help with the immediate discomfort. Padded heel inserts or orthotic arch supports can decrease the pressure while wearing shoes. Stretching exercises for the Achilles' tendon also reduces the pressure. Keeping the foot immobile in a cast for a period of time may improve your symptoms if other measures do not help.


If you have followed your doctor's treatment advice and are still experiencing painful symptoms, surgery may be the best course of action. There are two surgical treatment options that can alleviate pump pump: removing the bump or shortening the heel bone. In both procedures, the foot surgeon makes an incision in the heel area and pulls back the Achilles' tendon to expose the heel bone. Then the doctor removes some of the heel bone with a surgical saw. Removing some of the bone relieves the pressure from the heel and the thickened tissues covering the bone will return to normal.


The area remains bandaged for about a week following surgery. You may need to use crutches for the first few days of recovery. Your foot surgeon will likely give you the green light to resume all normal activities in six weeks or so. Take a look at sites like for more information.