Why Are My Feet So Skinny: Causes, Treatment, And Prevention

If your feet hurt and you are searching for answers as to why along with the query ‘why are my feet so skinny,’ the answer may not bring you relief.

You may be suffering from a condition called Fat Pad Atrophy or FPA.

Even if your feet aren’t skinny but you feel as if you are walking on stones each time you walk, you may have the condition.

What Is Fat Pad Atrophy (FPA)?

why are my feet so skinny

Fat Pad Atrophy is the gradual loss of the pad of fat at the base of the ball or heel of the foot.

The condition is quite common in the elderly and is characterized by pain and calluses on the feet.

If you touch those calluses and can feel bone underneath, that means the fat pads under your feet are growing thin.

FPA can worsen with age if it is not treated early.

People who suffer from the condition may lose half of the fat cushioning of their feet by the time they turn 50 and when they turn 70 years old, those fat pads may become thin to cause pain.

People who have FPA usually report the following symptoms:

  • They experience foot pain when they are asleep.
  • The pain intensifies when they try to walk for long periods of time.
  • Thick calluses form on the balls of their feet.
  • They feel as if there is a small rock under their feet when they stand.
  • They feel a deep or dull ache in the middle of the heel when they walk or stand.

Women are more susceptible to developing FPA than men and age is only one factor why that is so. Those who are at risk include women who:

  • Wear high heels for prolonged periods of time, especially pairs that do not support the bottom of their feet.
  • Wear tight or ill-fitting footwear, which forms calluses on their feet.

Factors That Can Lead To FPA

why are my feet so skinny

Age – As the years go by, the fat tissue and cartilage in our feet begin to decrease. This makes our bones weaker and thus prone to damage. When we reach our mid-30s, the fat pads under our feet begin to lose mass and the loss is usually not even.

Collapsed Bone – If the long bone in the foot gets damaged or collapses, it can exert pressure over the fat pad which can get damaged with time.

High Arch – People who have a high foot arch can also get this condition. That’s because high pedal arches can apply pressure on the connective tissue which can lead to damage.

Genes – If your family members suffer from this condition, chances are you will get it too. However, you can prevent it by adopting healthy practices.

Injury Or Trauma – Certain foot injuries can lead to FPA, especially ones that involve multiple fractures or ones that require several surgeries to fix. If the injury requires several months of recovery, the fat pads under your feet may get thinner due to a lack of activity.

Diabetes And Arthritis – Arthritis leads to inflammation, which can make the fat pads under your feet more vulnerable to damage. Similarly, the low blood pressure that is characteristic of diabetes can lead to neuropathy i.e. loss of sensation or numbness in the foot. This can also lead to FPA as the fat pads stop growing.

Treatment Options

why are my feet so skinny

Fat pad atrophy is treatable to an extent and its symptoms can be managed if you follow these tips:

  • Stop wearing high heeled shoes or shoes that force you to place pressure on your toes and the balls of your feet. Wear shoes that have heels that are an inch long or less.
  • Don’t walk barefoot.
  • If you work out regularly, replace high impact exercises, such as running to alternatives that aren’t tough on the feet, such as swimming and cycling.
  • Slip soft pads in your shoes or wear supportive footwear that is recommended by a podiatrist. These will absorb impact when you walk and give your aching feet a reprieve.

A podiatrist can give you relevant advice on foot care after examining the extent of your condition.

This includes additional measures you should take to prevent the pain from getting worse.

One of the most popular ones include shoes that are wider and deeper than conventional footwear and which also offer better arch support.

Prevention is better than cure in this case though. To prevent the onset of FPA and for healthier feet in general, follow these tips:

  • Shop for shoes at the end of the day when your feet are their largest and have them measured each time. That way you can ensure you get shoes that won’t feel tight when you slip them on in the morning. The extra space will also encourage blood circulation,which can keep those fat pads nice and plump.
  • Wash your feet with warm soap and water every day and moisturize after drying off. Slip on socks after to allow the moisturizer to seep in completely.
  • Improve circulation to your feet by placing them on a stool when you sit down, especially if your legs hang off the edge. Your feet may become numb otherwise,which can impact the fat pads under them.
  • If FPA is in your genes, visit a podiatrist regularly to have your feet checked out,especially if you have diabetes. The condition can compromise the fat pads on your feet in time. A podiatrist can spot the deterioration before it has time to do serious damage and will also recommend solutions to correct it.

Ignoring the effects of age on your feet can literally bring you to your knees. FPA is not a condition you can overlook if you want to remain active in your golden years.

Otherwise, you will be searching for solutions to more foot ailments rather than just ‘why are my feet so skinny.’