One Place You DON’T Want to be Thinner: Fat Pad Atrophy

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Do you feel pain the ball of your foot (better known as metatarsalgia) that’s worse when you’re standing, walking barefoot or wearing heels or thin-soled shoes? Do you sometimes feel like you have a small rock in your shoe? Do you have calluses which are thicker on that part of your foot? And when you touch that area, can you feel the bones?

If so, you might be feeling the thinning of the natural fat pads on the bottom of your feet. This condition is called Fat Pad Atrophy (FPA) where the protective cushioning under the bones in the balls of our feet thin out over time.

FPA affects men and women equally and becomes more intense with age. Some people have lost as much as half of these natural shock absorbers by age 50, and by age 70, they can become very thin. You might have FPA if you feel:

Persistent Foot Ache:

  • Strong foot pain after standing or walking for long periods of time
  • Foot pain at night or while resting
  • Pain in both feet
  • Thick calluses on the balls of your feet
  • The feeling of having a small rock in the bottom of your shoe
  • A deep, dull ache in the middle of the heel when walking or standing

What causes FPA?

  • Wearing high heels
  • Walking barefoot
  • Wearing shoes with thin soles
  • Having very high arches (which can increase pressure on that part of your feet)
  • Excessive pronation (where the feet roll inward)
  • Diabetes (especially with neuropathy and foot ulcers)
  • Rheumatoid arthritis
  • Genetics (yes FPA can develop partly due to heredity)
  • Surgery on other parts of the foot can lead to FPA
  • Body mass index (BMI) — your weight in relation to your height can have an impact
  • Hormonal shifts caused by pregnancy, menopause, hysterectomy and chemotherapy
  • Steroid injections, commonly used to treat the heel pain of plantar fasciitis
  • Side effects of prescription statins, which are prescribed to treat high cholesterol
  • Trauma from landing heel-first after a fall or jump on a hard surface

What can you do about FPA?

Avoid activities where you walk on your tiptoes, squat, wear high heels or put pressure on the balls of your feet
Replace high impact weight-bearing exercises with low-impact workouts such as swimming, pool running and cycling
Wear custom, personalized foot supports to absorb shock and evenly distribute weight to your feet
Wear supportive footwear that cushions your feet
Wear specially made padded socks such as the Thorlo brand

Good news! Your local Foot Solutions can help you with the foot supports, Thorlo socks and stylish shoes that are both fashionable and supportive. Foot Solutions stores have specially-trained experts to help assess your feet, gait and balance and determine the best combination of foot supports and stylish, comfortable, supportive shoes to keep your feet as pain-free and healthy as possible. Find the nearest Foot Solutions store and get your holistic foot analysis today!