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Can You Treat Fat Pad Atrophy With Orthotics?

Learn about the what causes the atrophy of the fat pads in your feet, what aggravates the condition, how it can be treated, and the effectiveness of using orthotics.

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By Babafemi Adebajo
Joel Taylor
Edited by Joel Taylor

Updated March 31, 2023.

Fat pads are closely packed fatty tissues found in specific areas of the body. They protect the foot's bones, tendons, ligaments, blood vessels, and nerves by absorbing force and pressure.

Over time, wear and tear will set in with the use of the fat pad. Age, obesity, diabetes, and plantar fasciitis can increase the rate at which this happens. The phenomenon is known as fat pad atrophy and occurs in both men and women. It leads to a thinning out of the fat cushion, leading to pain in the ball of the foot.

Here's what you need to know about cushioning the foot when that happens and how to increase foot padding.

Can Fat Pad Atrophy Be Reversed

While fat pad atrophy cannot be reversed, it can be slowed down by cushioning your foot with heel cups, wearing shoes with extra padding, avoiding barefoot walking, and more. Where foot pad atrophy is extensive, a foot filler injection can be used to relieve the pressure and help with pain relief. Between these conservative treatment options, you don't necessarily require any extra surgical intervention.

Can Orthotics Restore Fat Pads?

Yes, central to foot fat pad restoration are custom-made foot orthoses with padding. The idea is to replace the fat pad with an external shock absorber. This, in turn, will relieve pressure on the foot and reduce pain.

Usually, patients with heel fat pad atrophy choose viscoelastic orthotic devices, heel cushions, and heel cups. These are the best shoe inserts for fat pad atrophy as they cushion the foot and minimize all pain.

» Looking for the best insoles for fat pad atrophy? Browse Upstep's range of custom orthotics to get started


Fat pad atrophy may not be preventable, but at least you can prevent it from getting any worse. You can also manage any pain that results from it easily. Done well, you can be sure that your foot fat pad will still serve you well even in old age.

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