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Heel Pad Syndrome: Symptoms and Causes
Heel Pad Syndrome: Symptoms and Causes

Heel Pad Syndrome: Symptoms and Causes

Heel Pad Syndrome: Symptoms and Causes

Heel Pad Syndrome: Symptoms and Causes

Heel pad syndrome, also known as plantar fat pad syndrome or heel fat pad atrophy, is a condition that can cause significant pain and discomfort in the heel of the foot. It occurs when the natural cushioning in the heel area of the foot, known as the fat pad, becomes thinner and loses ability to provide adequate shock absorption. In this brief article brought to you by Podiatry Centers of Maryland, we explore the symptoms, causes, and treatments of this condition. If you are looking for a qualified podiatrist, or foot doctor, in the Maryland area, then give us a call to schedule a convenient appointment today.

What is heel pad syndrome?

The heel pad on the soles of your feet is a thick layer of tissue made up of dense fat pockets fenced by muscle fibers. These cushions on the bottom of your feet absorb shocks and distribute body weight as you walk, run, or jump. You may not realize it, but the heel pad endures a lot of wear and tear over time.

Too much wear and tear, as well as other factors, can cause the fatty tissue to shrink and lose its elasticity. This atrophy of the heel pad is a common injury among athletes, runners, and people who are on their feet for long periods, and it can cause significant pain in the heel as your bones are joints become more exposed to impact.

Symptoms of heel pad syndrome

The symptoms of heel pad syndrome as well as their severity can vary depending on the extent of the atrophy. Some people may experience mild discomfort while others suffer great pain which also limits their mobility. It is important to seek a podiatrist for foot pain treatment if you are experiencing any of the following symptoms:

  • Pain in the heel, particularly when walking or standing.
  • Swelling and tenderness in the heel.
  • Discomfort or pain when touching the heel.
  • Difficulty bearing weight on the affected foot.
  • Stiffness or reduced range of motion in the foot.

Causes of heel pad syndrome

There are several contributing factors to heel pad syndrome. One common cause is repetitive stress to the heel from activities that involve a lot of impact, such as running or jumping. Over time, this stress can cause the heel pad to become inflamed and irritated. Another related cause is direct trauma or injury to the heel, which can damage the heel pad and cause pain and discomfort.

Heel pad syndrome could also be a matter of time, and age. Age-related thinning of the heel pad can lead to the development of heel pad syndrome as well as conditions such as plantar fasciitis and Achilles tendinitis.

Finally, though there are many other potential causes, unsuitable or unsupportive footwear can also contribute to the development of heel pad syndrome.

Treatment options for heel pad syndrome

There are a few treatment options, including non-invasive as well as surgical solutions. A podiatrist can offer the most accurate diagnosis and appropriate treatment. Common routes include:

  • Rest, medication, and/or ice to reduce inflammation.
  • Physical therapy to strengthen the foot and reduce stress on the heel.
  • Orthotic devices to support the heel.
  • In severe cases, surgery to remove damaged tissue or repair the heel pad.

If you are experiencing heel pain or discomfort, you are welcomed to schedule a consultation or appointment with a podiatrist at Podiatry Centers of Maryland. Give us a call or visit one of our clinics to get started.

February 22,2023

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