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Effects of Changes in Heel Fat Pad Thickness and Elasticity on Heel Pain

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  • 1 Department of Orthopaedics and Traumatology, Medical School of Akdeniz University, Antalya, Turkey.
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The heel fat pad has a unique structure that is important for its shock-absorbing function. Loss of elasticity and changes in the thickness of the heel pad have been suggested as causes of heel pain. The present study of a population with heel pain shows the relationship between the thickness and elasticity of the heel fat pad and age, sex, obesity, duration of symptoms, subcalcaneal spurs, and noninvasive conservative treatment. Of 182 patients with heel pain who visited an outpatient clinic during a 3-year period, 50 (67 heels) fulfilling specific criteria were treated with a combination of nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, contrast baths, stretching exercises, and change of footwear habits. Patients were followed up for 1 year. Delayed healing, increased thickness, and decreased elasticity of the heel fat pad were found in patients who were older than 40 years, who had symptoms for longer than 12 months before treatment, and who had a large subcalcaneal spur. An increase in heel fat pad thickness with aging and increased body weight reduce the elasticity of the heel fat pad. In addition, subcalcaneal spurs diminish the elasticity of the heel fat pad and play a role in the formation of heel pain. (J Am Podiatr Med Assoc 94(1): 47-52, 2004)

Corresponding author: Hakan Özdemır, MD, Akdeniz Üniversitesi Tıp Fakültesi, Ortopedi ve Travmatoloji Anabilim Dalı, Antalya 07070, Turkey.