Heel pads on the soles of your feet function as shock-absorbing cushions for the heels. They consist of a thick layer of fatty tissue. Thinning of heel pads due to degenerative changes makes them lose their elasticity and shock-absorbing capacity, which is known as Heel Pad Syndrome. It is also known as Fat Pad Atrophy and is one of the common causes of heel pain after plantar fasciitis.
Causative factors of Heel pad syndrome are – wear and tear with advancing age, obesity, inappropriate footwear, uneven gait putting more stress on the heel pad, injury to the heel pad, malalignment of the foot, and repetitive stress activities like jumping and basketball. Walking or running barefoot on hard surfaces increases stress on hell fat pad.
Deep pain is felt in the mid-heel, making it difficult to stand, walk, or run. Pain is worse after prolonged standing or a long walk. Treatment of heel pad syndrome includes relative rest and avoiding aggravating activities. Using anti-inflammatory medications and ice help with the pain. Orthotics and special footwear with extra heel support are also crucial in managing heel pad syndrome. Heel taping and cushioned socks are also beneficial. In some cases, injectable dermal fillers are also used in the fat pad.
Exercises help to improve foot control and reduce the impact of weight-bearing forces in heel pad syndrome.
- Calf stretching– Stand facing a wall. Put your hands on the wall. Now step one foot behind the other with the affected leg at the back. With the front knee bent and the back knee straight, gently lean toward the wall keeping your back foot on the ground until a stretch is felt in the calf of the back leg. Hold for 30 seconds, and then switch feet. Repeat five times.
- Heel raises– Stand with your feet slightly apart. Lift your heels and go on toe tips. Hold for 5-10 seconds and then slowly lower back down. Repeat 10-15 times.
- Hamstring stretch–Sit on the floor with one leg out straight. Bend your other leg at the knee such that the sole of your foot rests against the inner thigh of the other extended leg. Pull your toes towards you. Now reach forward to touch the toes of your outstretched leg by bending at the hips. Keep your back straight. Hold for 10 seconds and do three reps on each side.
- Ankle ROM Exercises– Start in the long sitting position, pull your feet towards you and hold for five seconds. Then pull them down so that the toes are pointing away from you. Repeat 10-15 times.
- Ball rolling under the feet-Place a golf or rubber ball under your foot and move it forward and backward for a gentle massaging action.
- Lateral Stepping-Position your feet shoulder-width apart. Bend your knees slightly with your body weight evenly distributed over both feet. Step sideways onto your right for 10-15 steps and return to starting position.
STAY INFORMED! STAY HEALTHY!