Q+A: What’s this mystery lump on my heel?

Q I have recently noticed a small lump on the outside of my heel. It’s about the size of a pea and the skin covering it is numb. It isn’t painful, although it can rub on my shoes, and when I stretch my Achilles it feels uncomfortable. Should I be worried, and can I get it removed?

A If the lump is soft it could be fibrous or lipomatous (fatty) and of little consequence; if it’s hard it could be exostosis (a small outgrowth of bone), which is often caused by friction or an increase in tensile stress in this region. If the lump really bothers you then see your GP, who can arrange for x-rays or other investigations, and may refer you to a podiatrist.

If the lump does start causing you a great deal of discomfort then I’m sure it can be excised. But this obviously requires surgery, which can be painful and may prevent you from running for several weeks, and I would suggest that you try to avoid this if possible. Before considering surgery, try placing padding around the lump. Fashion some felt and strapping around it in the shape of a ring doughnut, with the lump in the middle of the ring. This will prevent pressure from being applied to the lump as you run, and will also stop your footwear rubbing on it.

Simon Costain, podiatric consultant at the Gait & Posture Centre, London