The Center for Podiatric Care and Sports Medicine

Losing Fat–In Your Foot

Posted by on Monday, August 20th, 2012

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If you just realized that you had lost some fat, you’d probably be happy, right? Many of us do battle with our weight, so finding out that you’ve shed some of that fat might make you want to run out and buy new jeans, try on that wedding dress you bought a few sizes too small since you’re determined to lose weight before the wedding,  or head out to the ice cream shop for a special reward.

Uh oh, we’ve got trouble, though–what if the fat loss came from a part of your body that needs that fat? Like your foot?

I lost fat from my foot? Shouldn’t I be excited? I don’t want fat feet. And I bet that ballet dancers don’t either. Well, think about it—you put an awful lot of pressure on your feet when you stand, walk, run, or dance. If you didn’t have some fat down there, your bones would be in excruciating pain. Luckily, you have fat on the soles of your feet, most notably on your heel, so your bones don’t hit the ground with every step. In fact, you have an inch of fat in your heel, so you have a nice thick cushion.

Okay, that makes sense. I don’t want to lose fat from my heel. So as long as I stay away from crazy heel fat loss programs, I should be fine, right? No, maybe, sort of.

That was helpful. I’ll explain. No, you can’t make yourself lose fat from your heels, but you also may not be able to stop it. Loss of fat in the heel pad, or calcaneal fat pad loss if you want to be fancy, can be the result of several things: a traumatic injury to your heel, such as stepping on something hard or landing on something hard.  Diabetics may lose fat in their heel, as can people who have had a lot of corticosteroid injections. Most commonly, though, it happens with age. You’ve been on your feet a lot during your life and much as your favorite pillow grows thinner with time, so does the heel pad on your foot.

How do I know I’ve lost fat in my heel pad? I don’t have my fat percentage in my feet checked very often.This can get a little tricky–the main symptom of heel fat pad loss is pain in your heel, as if you had a deep bruise there. However, people often think this means they have plantar fasciitis. The key to telling them apart is the location of pain: plantar fasciitis pain is located in the area where the arch and heel meet, while fat pad loss pain is usually found in the center of the heel. Also, plantar fasciitis pain is typically felt most on the “first step,” after you’ve been off your feet for a while, and you may not feel any pain if you touch that spot on your foot. If you feel pain consistently when you walk, especially on had surfaces, and feel pain when you press on the center of your heel, you probably have fat pad loss. The best way to get an accurate diagnosis and treatment plan, though, is to see a podiatrist at The Center for Podiatric Care and Sports Medicine (212.996.1900).

What is that treatment plan? Can I have fat from someplace where I don’t want fat transplanted into my heel? No, not yet at least. Heel fat pad loss is usually treated with orthotics or heel cups that provide cushioning and support for the heel. Ice can also help with pain. Some doctors have tried injecting Botox into the heel to provide some temporary protection, but that’s not really a great solution. Just give your heel some cushioning and hang on; maybe those “fat sucked out of my backfat for my heel pads” transplants are just around the corner.

 

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If you have any foot problems or pain, contact The Center for Podiatric Care and Sports MedicineDr. Josef J. GeldwertDr. Katherine Lai, Dr. Ryan Minara and Dr. Mariola Rivera have helped thousands of people get back on their feet. Unfortunately, we cannot give diagnoses or treatment advice online. Please make an appointment to see us if you live in the NY metropolitan area or seek out a podiatrist in your area.