Did you know there are fat pads in your feet? There are! They are located in the ball and the heel of your foot. Fat pads are there to act as a cushion between your bones and surface as you walk.
These fat pads are the kind of fat padding that you want. Without them, you would be in pain!
Today, we are going to talk a little bit about the fat pad in your heel. Your foot has three parts that act as shock absorbers when you walk or participate in activities. These shock absorbers are the bones in the arch of the foot, the plantar fascia and the heel fat pad. The fat pad in your heel is about an inch thick and is there to protect the heel bone. The pad is not just fatty tissue. The fatty tissue is divided into sections by ligaments. These sections act as baffles to help hold the fat in place. Unfortunately, with injury and repeated striking (my nice way of saying “aging”) the ligaments can be strained and the fat pad can spread out and become thinner.
If you have followed this blog, you know that we have talked about several problems that can cause heel pain. One of the most common is plantar fasciitis which is a strain of the plantar fascia that runs along the bottom of the foot from the heel to the metatarsals. You can also have heel pain from an inflamed Achilles tendon.
It is easy to misdiagnose fat pad diminishment as plantar fasciitis.
One way to tell the difference is if you press into the center of your heel and it hurts. Also, while this might be harder to discern, diminishment of the heel pad feels more like an ache or a bruise. Also you will feel the effects of fat pad diminishment in the middle of the heel rather than at the front of the heel.
If you are feeling pain in your heel, it is time to go see your friendly local podiatrist. The doctor can examine your foot and see if your problem is plantar fasciitis or if you have heel pad diminishment. (By the way the official term is plantar fat pad diminishment.) The treatments for the two problems are different. For fat pad diminishment, it will probably be recommended that you wear cushioned liners in your shoes, a padded heel cup, or perhaps custom fit orthotics to give your heel the cushioning that it needs. You might also want to use some over the counter anti-inflammatory medicine (if you can tolerate it) to help reduce the swelling and promote healing. Icing the heel after activity will also help.
In the past, doctors would inject the area with a drug that would act as a “filler” to compensate for the diminished fat pad. That treatment was a temporary fix. It would only last about six months and because of its temporary nature, it is generally not used any longer.
Have a great week!
The Foot Blogger Chick
We are so excited to announce that we have new physical therapists in our office to help those patients who would benefit from physical therapy treatments! Yes, the Doctors of Physical Therapy sharing some of our space. They understand and agree with our philosophy of treating the patient as part of our family. Please stop by and meet them!