Laura is a longtime online writer. Her articles focus on everything from sports to gardening to cooking.
Hockey Kids and the Bauer Bump
Hockey moms are a rare breed. We spend an enormous amount of time freezing our tails off watching our sons whack a puck with a stick. We wake early and drive several hours every week to allow our children to play a sport that requires signing a waiver warning of serious injury, paralysis, and possible death. We are required to release all liability against the hockey organization and the rink. Most hockey parents think the biggest risk is obtaining a concussion. Many, like myself, have researched concussions so we can identify the warning signs.
However, another fairly common risk rarely talked about at the rinks is called Haglund’s deformity, or otherwise known as the “Bauer Bump” or “Pump Bump.” Though the severity is not close to the same as a concussion, the implications of Haglund's Deformity can be long-lasting.
What is Haglund's Deformity?
Haglund’s deformity is a bony growth on the back of the heel. It literally looks like an extra bone is growing out of the heel. My thirteen year-old son, who has been playing ice hockey for five years, has Haglund’s deformity. My son’s sports medicine physician recognized it immediately it and cited his hockey skates as the culprit. I never knew my son would have this massive growth on the back of his heel from wearing skates so much. This is not a callus or a blister—it is a hard bone that is growing. The doctor assured me that professional hockey players have much larger growths. The bone growth occurs at the base of the Achilles tendon. The area near this tendon becomes inflamed when the bony protrusion rubs inside shoes or skates and can often lead to painful bursitis.
What Causes Haglund's Deformity?
Wearing shoes that do not fit properly or that apply excessive pressure and friction on the heel bone is the main cause. This constant irritation of the upper portion of the heel bone rubbing against the Achilles tendon eventually causes the bony protrusion and possible bursitis. The rigid backs of skates can create pressure that aggravates the enlarged bone when skating. In fact, any shoes with a hardback, such as ice skates, men’s dress shoes, or women’s pumps, can cause this irritation. Heredity can even play a role in Haglund’s deformity.
Certain types of foot structures, such as high arches, can make you more prone to developing this sometimes painful condition. With high arches, the heel bone is tilted backward into the Achilles tendon. This causes the inflamed bursa that creates 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. A more flexible tendon has less pressure against painful bursa.
Not Just Bauer Skates
It may be called the Bauer Bump at the ice rinks, but make no mistake, Haglund's deformity is not exclusive to Bauer skates. My son wears Canadian-made Grafs, which are worn by many professional hockey players. The brand of the skate is no determining factor, but the fit of the skate is extremely important. If a skate is too big, there will be more friction. If a skate is too small, there is excessive pressure on the heel bone. Haglund's deformity can also be known as the "Pump Bump" when seen in women who wear high heels for long periods of time.
Depending on the level of pain associated with the bony protrusion, there are non-invasive treatment options.
- Use a heel lift or gel pad to remove pressure
- Anti-inflammatories such as Motrin
- Exercises to stretch the Achilles tendon
When all other treatment fails and the pain associated with Haglund's deformity inhibits desired activities, surgery to remove the bone growth is used as a last resort.
Questions & Answers
Question: Can this growth appear on the side of the foot and not just the back?
Answer: Typically Haglund's Deformity is on the back of the foot. However, it is best to check with a medical professional to diagnose the issue, so you know how to treat it accurately. Good luck!
Anonymous IceSkater on February 29, 2020:
I did a little extra research, this is an edit from my previous message. Regarding #3: A Haglund's Deformity and a Bone spur look identical, and that's why bone spurs are often not caught, because they are mistaken for the harmless Haglund's Deformity. Bone spurs on the other hand, are not harmless, they can in fact cripple you if not treated. So, if you are skating in the long run, make sure to visit a foot doctor at least once, to get an X-Ray of the foot after a bump is of good size and make sure that the bump is on bone and not the Achilles directly. If it's on the tendon, it's a bone spur, if it's on the bone, it's a Haglund's Deformity, that's the difference. If it's on the bone, don't touch it, please, because if you do you will have it reform again anyways, but this time with a chance of it forming on the tendon, which is now a threat (Basically if it's on the bone, you are somewhat guaranteed no bone spur there ever, unless you try to remove it). The foot doctor will tell you if it's on the bone or tendon, if they say it's on the bone and should be treated, intervene with what you know.
Anonymous IceSkater on February 29, 2020:
I have skated since age 4, and still am skating at age 20. I have a bump on the ankle bone (inner part of foot), a bump on my heel, and a bump an inch above the ankle bone (outer part of foot). I must say that these bumps do not cause me any trouble, and would even say that they are a good thing (for skating). 1: If you skate vigorously, you will form these bumps regardless of well fitting skates or not (the speed of the 'growth' will depend on the fit), and the skates do not have to be Bauer skates for the growths to occur. 2: These bumps do not cause bone spurs, this is something I hear quite a bit; The reason why this is said very often is due to the fact that bone spurs are often misdiagnosed as Haglund's Deformity/Bauer bumps. 3: These bumps will almost always grow on bone, not tendon. The reason why they grow on bone can make sense if thought about: The skin is being pressured by the skate onto a solid/hard surface (bone) which can cause pain/inflammation, so the body forms these bumps as a form of protection for that pain (a tendon is not like bone, so a bump forming 'on' it has no real purpose). 4: Now another thing, this is the big one: The bumps are probably not the sources of the pain. Their purpose is to cushion the pain, and there might or might not be some extra pain while they are developing (I don't know/remember if there was), but what I can say is that mine are 'fully developed' and cause me no pain, and I do think they actually help reduce pain that I would've had without them. My evidence for that: The bump I have an inch above my ankle bone (outer part of foot) only exists on my right foot (the other bumps exist on both feet), and this bump is formed because I go to public skates frequently and we always go counter-clockwise, so the foot I put more weight on to turn gets more pressure on that spot than the other foot. I now go to a college that has an ice rink that changes direction of flow to clockwise halfway during public skates, and what I noticed was that my left foot hurts very much at the location symmetrical to where I have a bump on my right foot. I'm sure that if I had this bump on my left foot as well, then I would not have this foot pain. This is my experience with these bumps, they might be different for other people, and I know they don't look very nice, but just make sure not to do invasive actions on them if they aren't doing any real harm, because they could be doing good.
Heather on August 02, 2019:
My 9 y.o. developed this bump on one heel last season. After being out of skates for 4 months it’s almost gone. But now we’re heading back into hockey season. Any recommendations on how to know if the skates fit properly? Or what to look for in fit?
LauraGSpeaks (author) from Raleigh, NC on May 15, 2018:
Hi Ruth Anne, I am so sorry your son is experiencing the same condition. I think the fit of the skate is more important than the brand. My son switched to Grafs and it seemed to fit him better. Good luck!
Ruth-Anne on May 15, 2018:
My son has this condition and it has become very difficult for him to skate. Is there a better brand of skate he should use?
LauraGSpeaks (author) from Raleigh, NC on February 14, 2018:
Hi Deven--great advice to focus on comfort. I wish there were more knowledgeable people selling skates who knew how to guide parents when purchasing skates for their kids.
Deven Deguara on February 11, 2018:
Been playing hockey for 15 years now, all levels. Have had this issue growing up. It continued to get worse until I switched up my skates. Was wearing Bauer Vapors for a long time (slim heel width), used Reebok for a year because of the cushioning that it has (made a big difference), and then switched to Bauer Supreme (normal heel width). Have been using the same supremes now for 5 years now. Can confidently say that the width of the heel made the difference for myself. I wish i knew earlier. Make sure that comfort takes precedence over performance. It will make the players training more enjoyable, beneficial, and safe.
Jaymie on July 26, 2017:
Been through this on both heels. Had surgery on both problem solved. Long recovery
Abbey on June 20, 2017:
I've been noticing these gnarly bumps on the backs of my 9 year olds heels... finally asked Dr. google and it led me here. He's only told me a couple times that his heels were burning a little towards the end of a camp day. He's logged 19 hours on the ice in the last 9 days so the bumps have weird peeling skin on them too.
AARON on April 19, 2017:
I LOVE IT
Adrian on April 17, 2017:
Had this for years. Got surgery, punched out skates, rested, new skates, shots in ankle, etc etc..
On a whim I took out my insoles to try get my heel deeper in the boot. That worked like magic.
I've been playing without an insole for more than 10 years since then and haven't had the heel issue again.
LauraGSpeaks (author) from Raleigh, NC on February 07, 2017:
Hi Janet! Yes, It is alarming at first to see that big bump on the back of a kid's foot isn't it? On the performance issue, perhaps skates that don't fit as well as they should do to the bump may be an issue, unless he is having a lot of pain when skating and that is the reason. I can share with you that my son is now 18, no longer a hockey player, but a distance runner. His Haglund's Deformity doesn't look nearly as big now that his foot has grown (to a size 13)! Good luck to you and enjoy those hockey years!
Janet on February 07, 2017:
Thank you for the info! My son is a fairly strong skater and pretty fast, but lately he has been, well just something off a little - he explained his heel is burning a bit. I looked and wow, inflamed bump on each heel. Which obviously got me searching and I found this discussion board. Not sure where or what to do at this point, clearly a visit to the Dr.'s and see where that takes us. Silly question,but I assume this could cause some performance issues?
LauraGSpeaks (author) from Raleigh, NC on August 03, 2012:
David, due to privacy isues, I bet your surgeon would not be able to give you a couple names of his patients who have undergone the surgery to talk to. I would check out the online hockey forums. Tahoedoc here on hubpages may be a good resource for you as well. Good luck!! Are you a hockey player? I think my son will need this surgery some day too, so I am intersted in how you proceed. Please let me know what you decide.
David on August 02, 2012:
I have this and im trying to decide if i want the surgery or not...Anyone know where they could point me in the right direction?
RTalloni on May 07, 2012:
Thanks for posting helpful info with a prevention guide and treatment options!
LauraGSpeaks (author) from Raleigh, NC on April 24, 2012:
Hi wilderness. Thanks for checking out my hub. I look forward to working with you on team 3!
Dan Harmon from Boise, Idaho on April 20, 2012:
It seems that the more we have our children in sports the more injuries and problems we find.
A great hub about something that few have heard about. Well done.