Haglund's Syndrome & Deformity


Haglund's Syndrome - inflammation in the Achilles tendon and retrocalcaneal bursa.

Haglund's Syndrome is a condition that occurs at the back of the heel when you are suffering from Achilles tendonitis and bursitis in the retrocalcaneal bursa. The retrocalcaneal bursa is a small fluid-filled sac at the back of the calcaneus (heel bone) that allows the Achilles tendon to slide smoothly over the heel bone.

Achilles tendinitis (also spelled tendonitis) is inflammation in the Achilles tendon, often due to irritation and/or micro-tearing of the collagen fibers. Achilles bursitis occurs when the retrocalcaneal bursa is irritated from frequent pressure and it becomes inflamed. In some cases, the inflamed bursa also becomes infected with bacteria (referred to as septic bursitis) and it is necessary to see a doctor to get rid of the infection.

Haglund's Deformity is a painful, enlarged bony protrusion of the upper posterolateral calcaneus that is caused by calcification of the heel bone due to the inflammation of Haglund's Syndrome. Unfortunately, the boney protrusion causes further irritation to the retrocalcaneal bursa and Achille tendon due to excess compression of the Achilles tendon and bursa between the protrusion and the back of shoes or other footwear. This increased irritation than causes Haglund's Syndrome to become worse.

Due to similar symptoms and the location in the Achilles tendon area, Haglund's Syndrome is frequently misdiagnosed as Achilles tendonitis.


Symptoms of Haglund's Syndrome

Sufferers of Haglund's Syndrome may experience:

  • Pain at the back of the calcaneus and up the Achilles tendon, especially with jumping, hopping, tip-toeing, walking or running uphill or on soft surfaces.
  • Stiffness in your Achilles tendon when you wake in the morning.
  • Tenderness, warmth and swelling which might make it difficult to wear certain shoes.
  • As the retrocalcaneal bursa becomes more inflamed you will experience swelling. Swelling can cause difficulties moving the affected area and the range of motion in the ankle is usually affected.
  • Limping due to the pain may occur.
  • Possibly a fever if you are suffering from septic bursitis (You will need to see a doctor for medication to get rid of the infection).
  • The Achilles tendon and retrocalcaneal bursa are irritated by heat but feels good when treated with cold compression and rest.
  • Weakness in the Achilles tendon and gastrocnemius or soleus muscles can develop as the pain worsens and the inflammation in the area spreads.
  • For individuals who wear high-heeled shoes frequently, they may also feel an increase in pain when they are wearing flat shoes. When wearing high-heels, the calf muscles and Achilles tendon remain in a shortened position. When flat shoes are worn it causes the calf muscles and Achilles tendon to stretch more than usual causing the tendon to tighten around the heel bone and the tendon and bursa become irritated.

Risk Factors for Acquiring Haglund's Syndrome

Haglund's Syndrome is a very common runner's injury as well as with other athletes. It often results from sport footwear (i.e. runners, golf shoes or hockey skates) frequently compressing the retrocalcaneal bursa and Achilles tendon while participating in sports.

High heels can add pressure on the retrocalcaneal bursa and Achilles tendon causing Haglund's Syndrome.

Women aged 15-35 who wear high heeled shoes also have a high incidence of Haglund's Syndrome and Deformity. It is thought that the pressure on the Achilles tendon and retrocalcaneal bursa is made worse by the height of the heel. Due to the relationship between women's shoes and Haglund's Syndrome, the swollen bump that forms at the back of the heel because of this condition is often referred to as "pump bump".

It is important to treat Haglund's Syndrome in the early stages to reduce the symptoms, minimize damage and maintain motion and strength in your foot. Resting your ankle, using proper cushioning, wearing comfortable footwear and reducing any activities that add pressure on your retrocalcaneal bursa and Achilles tendon will help to reduce your pain and inflammation. By treating Haglund's Syndrome in the early stages you are more likely to prevent long-term damage and chronic conditions from setting in.



Conservative Treatment Options for Haglund's Syndrome

Relieving the symptoms of Haglund's Syndrome initially focuses on taking the pressure off the retrocalcaneal bursa and reducing inflammation in the Achilles tendon. This can be done with proper cushioning, inserts, or footwear but may require surgery to reduce the enlarged heel bone if the syndrome is caused by Haglund's Deformity. Preliminary treatment starts with a cold pack application. Once initial inflammation has subsided somewhat, begin Circulation Boost treatments to help reduce risk of further injury while ensuring the body's own healing process is working efficiently.

The most important factor in healing Haglund's Syndrome (Achilles bursitis and tendonitis) is resting your ankle. This can be difficult when you have to carry on with daily activities, but resting and elevating your foot whenever you can is recommended. During your recovery you will probably have to modify or avoid the activities that put stress on your retrocalcaneal bursa and Achilles tendon until your pain and inflammation settle.

If you are suffering from subcutaneous bursitis or retrocalcaneal bursitis, there is a high probability you are suffering from achilles tendonitis as well. With bursitis and tendinitis both being soft tissue injuries, rest is recommended, however, some careful movement is required to prevent the joint from freezing and losing range of motion. See your doctor or physical therapist for stretches that will not cause further injury to your achilles. Avoid activities that cause pain or may have caused the injury and begin cold compression treatments as soon as possible.

The Achilles tendon and bursae in the heel and foot are difficult to rest as they are essential for walking and daily activities. Fortunately, there are conservative treatment protocols that can help boost blood circulation in the Achilles region, strengthening the ability of the body to heal soft tissue. We feel this can help you get back to a life without pain and risk of further injury. The use of a T•Shellz Wrap® (Circulatory Boost) increases elasticity of soft tissue while promoting blood flow (vasodilation) at the treatment site.

Although steroid injections may provide temporary relief from the pain of an a soft tissue injury in the achilles and heel, they should generally be undertaken with caution as they weaken strained tendons... and may lead to a complete rupture. If you do opt for an injection, doctors usually recommend that you do not participate in strenuous activities for several weeks to reduce the risk of a rupture.

Conservative Treatment Step 1: Reduce The Initial Inflammation

Inflammation is the body's natural response to an immediate achilles injury and is a normal part of the healing process - helping to reduce tissue infection in the early stages of injury. Swelling, pain, heat sensation, redness, and loss of function are the main symptoms experienced.

The R.I.C.E. (rest, ice, compression, eleveation) treatment philosophy is used to decrease inflammation and relieve the pain of Haglund's Syndrome quickly when your retrocalcaneal bursa and Achilles tendon are inflamed and painful.

  • Rest and limit your activity, to decrease swelling and minimize further inflammation in the Achilles bursa and tendon.
  • Cool the back of your heel to help reduce blood flow and fluid build up.
  • Compress the area if possible by adding light pressure to minimize swelling (make sure the wrap is snug, but not too tight as it could cause more pain on the bursa).
  • Elevate your foot to relieve the pressure from swelling.

Applying cold to your Achilles bursa and tendon will decrease the swelling and redness at the back of your heel. In addition, it will numb the pain in your heel and help to control the inflammation. Simply, apply cold to your ankle as needed throughout the day, for approximately 10-15 minutes at a time.

The combination of rest, topical pain relief cream and cold is the gold standard in medicine for minimizing tissue damage, reducing heel pain and reducing inflammation after injury or activity. It serves as a critical bridge into the next phase of the healing process.

Conservative Treatment Step 2: Enhance Blood Flow to the Injured Soft Tissue

Once the inflammation in the heel bursae and tendons have been reduced, nourishing and strengthening the injured soft tissue is recommended.

When you have a tendon or bursa injury, there is not much blood flow in these areas as these are dense soft tissue. Inflammation and reduced movement (lack of activity or on-going immobility) reduces the flow of blood to an area that is already receiving very little blood flow. If the joint in this area is active, you run a risk of increasing the severity of the injury. If there has been some healing, you could sustain a re-injury all over again.

Types of Achilles Strain
Achilles Tendinosis Running Injury

It is through the blood the body carries the nutrients and oxygen that injured tissues rely on for recovery.. It is well known that increased blood flow helps your body accelerate the healing process.

This is why the T•Shellz Wrap® is such an important tool. The primary purpose of the wrap is to accelerate blood flow to soft tissue in the treatment area. Blood vessels in the area relax, and naturally expand to allow for more blood flow to reach the very tissues you are trying to heal. In addition, this process will help clear the area of toxins and excess fluid build up, thereby reducing inflammation.

 tshellz bloodflow stimulation

Conservative Treatment Step 3: Recognize That Healing is a Process

With dedication, the right tools, and the right information - you will achieve your goal of a sustainable recovery. A combination approach of cold, heat treatments, and functional movements will make it happen much more quickly. Healing takes a comprehensive approach and will differ from person to person.

The Achilles T•Shellz Wrap® - A Healthy Achilles and Heel For The Long Term

The best option we came across in our research to accomplish effective blood flow to soft tissue in the achilles area at home is the Achilles T•Shellz Wrap®. Use of this device results in an increase of blood flow within the treatment area - all in a non-invasive manner.

achilles T•Shellz Wrap

Have you seen what happens when you add water to a flower wilted from drought? In essence, your injured achilles is much like a "wilted" flower; your body wants to heal its injury, but needs lots of nutrients to do it. Blood brings life to your tissue by delivering healing nutrients and oxygen that are vital for their growth and survival. In addition, the blood carries away toxins and waste cleaning the area and healing it faster. Without a good supply of blood, your achilles simply won't heal properly.

Using a T•Shellz Wrap® will not expose you to the risk of causing further harm to soft tissue like you can when using rigorous exercise. The Achilles T•Shellz Wrap® accomplishes the goal of enhanced blood flow without the need for intensive exercise and as such reduces your risk of re-injury.

This wrap is intended to be an effective method to treat your swollen and painful bursa, reduce the inflammation in your tendon and improve the health of soft tissue in your ankle.

Pain and Anti-inflammatory (NSAIDs - Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs) can be used if required to help manage your pain. However, these aren't recommended for long term use, as they can cause gastrointestinal difficulties and increase the risk of cardiovascular disease. The use of cold compression and Circulatory Boost in conjunction with NSAIDs can aid greatly in your recovery.

Using a T•Shellz Wrap® will not expose you to the risk of causing further harm to soft tissue like you can when using rigorous exercise. The Achilles T•Shellz Wrap® accomplishes the goal of enhanced blood flow without the need for intensive exercise and as such reduces your risk of re-injury.


Learn More About Achilles Injuries & Treatments

I want to learn more about Achilles Surgery & Post-Surgery Recovery

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I want to learn more about Ice & Heat: Which Is Better For The Achilles?

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During your recovery, you will probably have to modify and/or eliminate any activities that cause pain or discomfort at the location of your soft tissue injury until the pain and inflammation settle. Always consult your doctor and/or Physical Therapist before using any of our outstanding products, to make sure they are right for you and your condition.


 
 

Please be aware that this information is neither intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. CALL YOUR HEALTHCARE PROVIDER IMMEDIATELY IF YOU THINK YOU MAY HAVE A MEDICAL EMERGENCY. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider before using any of our outstanding products to make sure they're right for you and your condition or if you have any questions regarding a medical condition. Always see your doctor for a proper diagnosis as there are often many injuries and conditions (some very serious) that could be the cause of your pain.


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