If you're familiar with the debilitating pain of plantar fasciitis, which is often caused by running, a new treatment is on the horizon: body-fat injections. According to findings from a small study (with only 14 participants), published Tuesday in the journal "Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery," researchers found that injecting fat into the sole of the foot eased plantar fasciitis pain.
Plantar fasciitis is a condition where the tissue running along your foot (from the heel through the arch to the toes) becomes inflamed. It can burn, throb, sting, and ache, and many people complain that it feels worse in the morning when their muscles are tight — just stepping onto the floor from your bed and trying to walk to the bathroom can be excruciating. Runners often complain of this condition, but dancers and those on their feet all day can have it, too.
This condition affects two million people a year, with 10 percent of people living with it long-term. This treatment was tested on patients with chronic plantar fasciitis. According to a news release from the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine, where the study took place, doctors use a blunt needle to create a small tear in the plantar fascia tissue and inject fat taken from the patient's belly or other areas. Within six months, the patients began to feel better, noticing significant improvement in pain and their ability to perform activities and participate in sports.
If physical therapy and rest haven't helped and surgery seems too risky or painful, this treatment could be promising. Although this procedure is currently available to patients, it's not yet covered by insurance.