Study finds surprising use for fat injections for foot pain patients

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Researchers at the University of Pittsburg’s School of Medicine have discovered a treatment that could alleviate a common cause of foot pain.

Plantar fasciitis is a condition that causes pain in the bottom of the heel and occurs when the band of tissue that connects the heel to the base of your toes becomes inflamed.

According to a study published by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, approximately 10% of the population, or 2 million people in the United States, are affected by plantar fasciitis.

Scientists at the University of Pittsburg’s School of Medicine found that injecting fat harvested from the patient to the inflamed area can reduce pain levels and decrease swelling.

Scientists Beth Gusenoff, Danielle Minteer and Jeffery Gusenoff published their study in the peer-reviewed journal Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery.

While most cases of plantar fasciitis can be alleviated through stretching and physical therapy, according to Johns Hopkins Medicine, some severe cases require surgery. But current surgical treatments that involve cutting the plantar fasciitis have limited evidence of effectiveness, according to Yale Medicine.

“Recently, there has been a plea among podiatrists to stop cutting the plantar fascia because some people get a lot of scar tissue, which causes pain,” Beth Gusenoff, Board-Certified Podiatric Surgeon and Clinical Assistant Professor of Plastic Surgery in the Department of Plastic Surgery at Pitt, said in a press release.

“And if too much is cut, the foot can become destabilized, so people end up with almost like a floppy foot.”

The research studied 14 participants that had chronic cases of plantar fasciitis and observed them over a year. Participants were split into two groups: one group received the fat injections from the beginning of the study, and the other received the injections after six months.

Researchers concluded that “perforating fat injections for chronic plantar fasciitis demonstrate significant improvement in pain, function, and plantar fascia thickness.”

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