Bauer Bump: throw the kitchen sink at it

bauer bump

Bauer Bump is what is mostly used in the ice hockey community to describe a Haglund Deformity (pump bump, retrocalcaneal bursitis) that occurs at the back of the heel bone (calcaneus):

Everyone has a prominent area at the back of the calcaneus where the Achilles tendon inserts into the bone. There is quite a bit of variability in the size of the prominence. Some are bigger and some are smaller. The bigger ones can run onto problems when you need to wear footwear that is rigid around the heel counter. This is what happens in ice skates and Bauer are one of the more prominent manufacturers of ice skates, hence the term ‘Bauer Bump’. Other brands of skates can also cause it and so can other types of footwear such as ski boots or work boots or even everyday shoes if they are rigid where the bone is prominent.

What causes a Bauer Bump?

The cause is a combination of rigid ice skates with a prominent area of bone on the calcaneus (Haglund’s deformity). The prominent area of bone is just a natural variation in the size of the bone. The pressure between the bone and ice skates causes the pain. The pressure also can cause the development and irritation of a bursa causing a bursitis over the area which can become quite swollen and painful.

How to treat a Bauer Bump?

There are a number of approached that can be used to manage the pain from the Bauer bump:

  1. Simple pain management with ice packs and maybe anti-inflammatory drugs in the short term if needed.
  2. Get the ice skates fitted properly by a professional as they are the best at accommodating the Haglund’s bump. A good ice skate boot fitter may be able to make modifications to the shell of the boot so that they do not press so hard on the painful area. Depending on the nature of the skate it may be possible to use a heat gun to stretch the shell of the skate out. Good skate fitters are worth their weight in gold!
  3. Occasionally, something as simple as a heel raise under the foot may help by moving the painful area of the bump away from the area of the skate that is pressing mostly on the Haglund’s bump.
  4. The use of protective felt or gel padding that goes around the lump in the shape of a horseshoe or donut will get the pressure from the skate off the enlarged bone and give some relief. Alternatively a silicone gel pad over the lump may be able to reduce the rubbing on it and help with the irritation from the bursitis.
  5. Sometimes changing the brand of skate from the one that is causing the problem can help. Different brands use different lasts on which to make their skates, so will have a slightly different last shape that may better accommodate your foot. This will help some people, but could also make it worse in other people.
  6. The final option is a surgical resection of the prominent bone.

Personal Opinion on a Bauer Bump

I grew up ice skating a lot in my younger days. I also have a mild Haglund’s, so I can have some sympathy for those who have problems with a Bauer’s bump. What is a bit surprising is that I went my entire professional life until recently and and never heard of the term Bauer’s bump and it being called that. I wrote about that here: I learnt a new word: “Bauer Bump”


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