Fat pad Syndrome

Fat Pad Syndrome
How this painful syndrome can affect your daily life and what to do about it.

Shoes are an integral part of everyday life in many countries, but did you know that the human body was made to walk, and even run, barefoot? Certain modern conveniences such as roads, rough concrete, and the risk of stepping on common materials like glass, metal scraps, and other items make the need for shoes into a requirement. But the natural design of your foot is still pretty cool.

The bony arch and plantar fascia (a band that goes along the arch of the foot) are made to work as a shock absorber. On the heel, there is a “fat pad” between the skin and the bone of the heel, called the calcaneous. This acts as a cushion for your bone against impacts. But how does this pad keep its strength under pressure? It is divided into small sections by tiny “walls” called baffles that keep the fat from spreading out and “stretching”. If your fat pad is damaged via an injury to your heel, the baffles become weak and stretch, which allows the fat pad to spread and thin. A thinner pad means less cushioning and your bone will take more of the impact from walking and running than it was designed for and thus causes more problems. So you can see that there is a lot riding on that little pad in your heel!

How to know if you may have Fat Pad Syndrome

This condition is not very common and does not only affect athletes or those who exercise often. It can be misdiagnosed as plantar fasciitis which makes it harder to correct and take longer to heal. If you have these symptoms, you will want to see your doctor and ask about Fat Pad Syndrome, even if you already have a diagnosis of plantar fasciitis.

  • Heel pain, usually a deep, dull ache. This can feel like a bruise on the center of the heel. This is where the difference between plantar fascia pain or pain from heel spurs can differ. Those will manifest with a pain in the front of the heel. Fat pad syndrome will cause pain in the middle.
  • It gets worse when you walk barefoot on hard surfaces. Concrete, hardwood floors, ceramic tile, can all be a trigger. You may still feel this while wearing shoes, but it will be less intense.
  • You can find a sore spot with your thumb by pressing the center of the heel.
  • The condition may be triggered by a hard strike to the heel, such as landing too hard on a surface or stepping on a rock while running.
  • Of course, there is no replacement for a diagnosis from an experienced physician, so the more important step to take is into a doctor’s office. If you are having enough trouble from these symptoms that you are restricted in your daily activities, go in right away and ask about the proper treatment for heel pain.

    What to do next
    Once a doctor has ruled out plantar fasciitis as the issue, they may suggest that they tape your heel. This will simulate the stabilizing “walls” that have been damaged in your heel’s fat pad. If the pain is significantly reduced or completely gone, you can be pretty confident that fat pad syndrome is the problem. The good news is that fat pad syndrome is not chronic, which means that it will heal with time and the right treatments.

    Taping your heel is a good start, but the process can be time-consuming and the tape itself may irritate the skin on your foot after a few applications. KURU shoes have a full line of supportive shoes to help you as you heal. You can choose from many looks and colors to fit your wardrobe and even a few business casual styles so you do not have to sacrifice comfort in the workplace. The heel cup will give you the same support as taping your heel without the added time and frustration of having the wrap your foot each day. And the patented multi-aspect design can make your KURU's feel like most comfortable shoes.

    Another good habit is to ice your heel after exercise or a lot of time on your feet. Limit activities that would create a hard impact on your heel until the pad is fully back to normal. And consider using an ergonomic mat in front of areas that you stand for long periods of time (think of standing at the sink to do dishes, or the oven to cook. At work you may stand at a work table or counter).

    As your foot heals, you will see yourself being able to do more. That can make a huge difference in your productivity at work or at home. And with the peace of mind that your feet are happy, you can make plans with confidence that you will be able to enjoy your time and activities with family and friends. Find what works for you and go with it, and if it looks as good as KURU’s shoes, then that is just a bonus!

    Protect your feet's fat pad with a KURU shoe.

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