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Health Fusion: Fat injections for foot pain

An injection of your own fat into the sole of your foot may help plantar fasciitis pain. In this episode of NewsMD's Health Fusion, Viv Williams checks out the details of a new study.

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University of Pittsburgh researchers have developed a new method for treating a painful foot condition called plantar fasciitis. A patient’s own fat is injected into the foot via dozens of small injections in a grid pattern.
Contribution / Gusenoff et al.
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ROCHESTER — Plantar fasciitis is a common foot problem that can cause searing, stabbing pain when you step out of bed or off of the couch.

Researchers from the University of Pittsburgh are trying out a new way to treat it. They're injecting fat into the souls of the feet. A proof-of-concept study is complete and the research team is gearing up for clinical trials.

"We developed this procedure to harness the regenerative properties of fat," says Dr. Jeffrey Gusenoff, a professor of plastic surgery. "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.”

The procedure involves poking a tiny hole in the patient's fascia in their foot and then injecting fat from a patient's belly or other body part into it. Once there, stem cells in the fat stimulate healing and growth, reducing symptoms in the process.

Plantar fasciitis is a common cause 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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Traditional treatment includes stretching, shoe orthotics or cortisone injections. But about 10% of patients progress to the chronic form. Surgery may help, but the researchers say it is not risk-free.

They hope to validate their findings in the upcoming clinical trial.

The study is published in the journal Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery.

Follow the  Health Fusion podcast on  Apple Spotify and  Google podcasts. For comments or other podcast episode ideas, email Viv Williams at  vwilliams@newsmd.com . Or on Twitter/Instagram/FB @vivwilliamstv.

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