What is Haglund’s Deformity?
Our feet bear the weight of the body and facilitate the transfer of power from our lower legs. The ligaments, tendons and bones in our feet all serve crucial roles that allow for complex movements like standing, walking, running and jumping.
Haglund’s deformity is most commonly formed from abnormalities in the bone and soft tissues in the feet. It is a degenerative condition that can lead to painful bony growths at the rear of the heel.
Long term wear and tear of the feet can lead to chronic cases, with patients suffering severe pain and discomfort with their mobility significantly restricted.
Causes of Haglund’s Deformity
There are several known factors that contribute to the development of this degenerative disease. Some of them include:
Intense physical strain on the feet
Occupations that involve long hours of standing or walking around (e.g. people working in retail, warehouses) can lead to overloading on the feet. People whose jobs involve a rigid posture of the foot, like machine operators in the warehouses and factories are particularly vulnerable.
Incorrect footwear or wearing poorly fitted shoes can lead to uneven load distribution on the feet. This is more common in women who wear heels and tight-fitting shoes.
- High-intensity sporting activities that place an excess load on the feet, such as tennis, rugby and running. Unhealthy proprioception can exacerbate the risk.
- Rheumatism and inherent malformations in the structure of the feet bear the risk of degeneration.
- For example, a patient might have a hollow foot where the arch of the foot is excessively pronounced, and the toes are curved. This places excess stress on the heel and exacerbates the condition.
- Birth Defects can lead to a slightly bulged heel that increases the risk of Haglund’s syndrome.
Haglund's Deformity Symptoms
Haglund’s deformity syndrome is a condition affecting the heel bone and the Achilles tendon in the foot. The symptoms of the disease depend on the progression of the condition and tend to get worse with time and age.
Some of the most commonly associated symptoms include:
- Development of a bony bulge on the surface of the heel bone. The bulge then rubs against the inside of the shoe and causes irritation and discomfort.
- Swelling and pain in the Achilles tendon where the bone is pressing against it.
- Mild cases usually involve episodic pain after long periods of inactivity, usually after a long night’s sleep or a long workday at a desk. The pain subsides eventually, however, the underlying condition remains. As time passes, the condition progresses and the symptoms get progressively worse.
- A patient experiences a constant sharp pain in the feet and their mobility is severely restricted. Long term wear and tear and neglect can lead to chronic cases of Haglund’s syndrome.
- In some cases, deposits of calcium might develop into bony growths on the surface of the heel bone, leading to heel spurs.
Diagnosis of Haglund’s Deformity
An orthopedic specialist or GP is the best medical practitioner to seek advice from when suspecting Haglunds Syndrome.
A thorough physical check and patient history help understand the risk factors on an individual basis.
Sophisticated imaging technology like X-rays can be used to determine the location and progression of the bone growths in the affected area.
Together this information can help form an effective prognosis.
Haglund’s Deformity Treatment
Treatment for Haglund’s syndrome is mostly conservative and is centred around alleviating the symptoms and taking measures to prevent the progression of the condition. The most effective treatments include:
Lifestyle Changes to Relieve the Foot
- It is crucial to relieve the foot from the excess strain it is under. Well, fit shoes along with special socks that provide heel support (Training compression socks) can help provide support and relief to the heel.
- It is highly recommended that all strenuous activities like training and exercise be halted in the short term. This allows the foot to rest and heal over time.
- Reducing your body weight and combating obesity help to reduce the weight on your feet and greatly reduces the strain on the heel bone. Initially, a change to a healthier diet and later controlled physiotherapy can provide wonderful results.
- When there is significant inflammation in the feet, patients may find it very beneficial to use prescribed anti-inflammatory and analgesics.
- Mild cases are often managed conservatively with cooling and ice packs and mild anti-inflammatories to manage the swelling
- In advanced patients with chronic symptoms, local injections of Cortisone are more effective.
- It is highly recommended that the muscles in the calf and foot are regularly exercised to build strength.
- Developing these muscles can help reduce the stress on the bone as well as combat the progression of the condition.
- Multiple sessions a day for a few months can rapidly improve a patient’s prognosis.
- Practising healthy proprioception and prioritizing a good warm-up before any training can go a long way in recovery.
Medical Orthopedic Shoe Inserts
- Optimally shaped medical Orthopedic shoe inserts/ insoles are very effective as both a preventative measure and to slow down the degeneration of the Calcaneus (heel bone).
- The insoles help protect the foot from excess stress, as well as any unnatural movements beyond the natural range of motion, i.e. against overloading and overstretching.
- The insoles can also serve as a comfortable cushion for patients with inherent malformations in the structure of the foot.
- Only in rare cases of Haglunds Heel does surgery become necessary. Most cases of the condition are managed conservatively.
- Some patients might require surgery to correct the excess bone growth to restore structure and mobility to the foot.
- Surgery is, however, a risky procedure and is usually the last resort to provide relief to a patient.
Haglund's Deformity Shoe Inserts and Orthortis
Medical orthopedic shoe inserts like the ViscoSpot cushion is an effective tool in both preventing the onset of the condition as well as managing the symptoms of Haglund’s syndrome.
The insert acts as a cushion for the heel and relieves it from stress. The ViscoSpot cushion is designed to fit snugly inside everyday shoes and prevents the foot from slipping out of the shoe.
Patients using the insert on a regular basis have reported relief from the pain associated with Haglund’s syndrome. The skin-friendly material is easy to clean and very durable, making it perfect for daily use.
The AchilloTrain provides targeted medical compression around the heel, while a massaging gel cushion supports the Achilles tendon in the area most affected by Haglunds Heel. The firm comfortable weave of the fabric combined with the in-built heel cushion makes it suitable for all-day use and the perfect support for such a condition.
For less severe cases, the Sports Ball & Racket Socks provide a comfortable medical-grade compression to help reduce the symptoms in combination with an insole like the ViscoSpot.