Haglund's Syndrome, a Common Running Injury That Causes Heel Pain, Can Often be Treated With Minimal Downtime

Often mistaken for tendonitis or inflammatory arthritis, a proper diagnosis is essential to treatment

New York, NY—April 11, 2006 

Spring is here and runners, tennis players, golfers, roller bladers and other fitness fanatics will be out in full force. Unfortunately, many will likely experience aches and pains from too much activity or improper equipment.

One condition that many runners seek treatment for is associated with a painful bump on the back of the heel, caused by the back of the shoe consistently rubbing against the heel. Often mistaken for tendonitis, superficial irritation or inflammatory arthritis, the proper diagnosis of this condition, Haglund’s syndrome, is essential in order to ensure that patients receive the appropriate treatment.

Radiologist Ronald S. Adler, Ph.D., M.D., chief, Division of Ultrasound and Body CT, and colleagues at Hospital for Special Surgery, in New York City, described in a study published in the February issue of the HSS Journal how they have used ultrasound technology to both accurately diagnose and potentially relieve the associated pain of Haglund’s syndrome. Once the diagnosis is confirmed, Dr. Adler and his team use ultrasound to guide an injection of medication directly into the affected area, thus prolonging and, in some cases, eliminating the need for surgery.

"Patients often feel better from the anesthetic, which usually lasts several hours," said Dr. Adler. "A more prolonged response usually begins two to three days following the injection, once the steroids kick in. An ultrasound-guided injection allows us to directly target the painful area or bursa, thereby avoiding an injection into the tendon. This is the real advantage of ultrasound, since blind injections into the tendon can further weaken it, predisposing the tendon to rupture."

A surgical option may also have been considered requiring longer rehabilitation, with several months of restricted activity (i.e., no running).

“Using ultrasound technology as a diagnostic and minimally invasive treatment for Haglund’s syndrome, many individuals can get pain relief without having to undergo surgery,” he said. “Ultrasound is a nonsurgical outpatient procedure that does not require sedation and, when used in conjunction with modifications in footwear and activity, is an appropriate initial treatment for relief of the pain associated with this condition.”

For more information on the Hospital for Special Surgery Department of Radiology and Imaging, visit http://imaging.hss.edu/.

About Hospital for Special Surgery Department of Radiology and Imaging
Hospital for Special Surgery (HSS) Department of Radiology and Imaging, under the direction of Radiologist-in-Chief Helene Pavlov, M.D., FACR, has the largest and most experienced academic musculoskeletal radiology faculty in the world, each with academic appointments at Weill Medical College of Cornell University. The department's focus is on both the imaging diagnosis of musculoskeletal conditions/diseases and the treatment of specific conditions utilizing image guidance. More than 180,000 musculoskeletal examinations are performed annually, including: magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), computed tomography (CT), ultrasound (US) and nuclear medicine (NM) in addition to conventional radiography (X-ray). The department also offers teleradiology services. All HSS radiologists are Board Certified by the American College of Radiology and have received numerous awards by honor and professional societies, including the Consumer's Research Council of America Guide to America's Top Radiologists.

About Hospital for Special Surgery
Founded in 1863, Hospital for Special Surgery (HSS) is a world leader in orthopedics, rheumatology and rehabilitation. HSS is nationally ranked No. 1 in orthopedics, No. 3 in rheumatology by U.S. News & World Report (2007), and has received Magnet Recognition for Excellence in Nursing Service from the American Nurses Credentialing Center. In the 2006 edition of HealthGrades' Hospital Quality in America Study, HSS received five-star ratings for clinical excellence in its specialties. A member of the NewYork-Presbyterian Healthcare System and an affiliate of Weill Medical College of Cornell University, HSS provides orthopedic and rheumatologic patient care at NewYork-Presbyterian Hospital at New York Weill Cornell Medical Center. All Hospital for Special Surgery medical staff are on the faculty of Weill Medical College of Cornell University. The hospital's research division is internationally recognized as a leader in the investigation of musculoskeletal and autoimmune diseases. Hospital for Special Surgery is located in New York City and online at www.hss.edu.

^ Back to Top
Request an Appointment