Why does the pad at the bottom of my foot feel thinner?
If the bones at the bottom of your feet feel more prominent, and the pad at the bottom of your feet - beneath your forefoot or your heel - feels thinner, then you may have fat pad atrophy.
Plantar fat pad atrophy describes the thinning or breakdown of the fat pad at the bottom of our feet. Patients describe the feeling of a thin fat pad as walking or hard stones or marbles. These pads are there to help protect our joints and tissues, absorbing shock, cushioning and dissipating the heavy forces that our feet are exposed to every day. A thin pad renders our feet more vulnerable to injuries such as stress fractures, bone bruising and balance problems.
Why do our fat pads get thinner?
- Overtraining and excessive force to the bottom of our feet
- Cortisone injections
- Medical conditions, like diabetic neuropathy
- Surgery on the feet
- Injuries such as stress fractures.
- High heels and other shoes that place more pressure on the fat pads
- Certain medications
What are the symptoms?
When our fat pads thin, they will expose our bones more prominently, namely the metatarsal heads at the ball of our feet, and our heel bone. The bones will then start taking on a much heavier load and the feet will not be able to absorb shock as effectively. This can cause:
- Pain, tenderness and bruising
- Formation of callus and/or corns
- The feeling of walking on a marble
How to help thin fat pads
- Help prevent the fat pad from thinning further
- Supplement the fat pad with in-shoe cushioning using an orthotic