Fat injections could treat common cause of foot pain

A novel technique that transplants a patient’s own fat into the sole of their foot could offer relief to those suffering from a common and painful condition called plantar fasciitis, according to University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine researchers.

In a pilot study, published today in Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery and led by a wife-and-husband team, the fat injection procedure improved symptoms of plantar fasciitis in patients, laying the groundwork for a larger clinical trial.

“We developed this procedure to harness the regenerative properties of fat,” said Jeffrey Gusenoff, M.D., professor of plastic surgery at Pitt. “In this proof-of-concept study, we showed that fat injections into the foot reduced heel pain, helped patients get back to doing sports and activities and boosted quality of life.”

Plantar fasciitis, or PF, is one of the most common causes of heel pain, affecting about 2 million people in the United States. It’s caused by inflammation of the plantar fascia, connective tissue that runs from the heel to the toes and supports the foot arch.

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