Cookies on this website

We use cookies to ensure that we give you the best experience on our website. If you click 'Accept all cookies' we'll assume that you are happy to receive all cookies and you won't see this message again. If you click 'Reject all non-essential cookies' only necessary cookies providing core functionality such as security, network management, and accessibility will be enabled. Click 'Find out more' for information on how to change your cookie settings.

BACKGROUND: The objectives of this study were to estimate the population prevalence and distribution of plantar heel pain in mid-to-older age groups, examine associations with selected health status and lifestyle factors, and report the frequency of healthcare use. METHODS: Adults aged ≥50 years registered with four general practices were mailed a health survey (n = 5109 responders). Plantar heel pain in the last month was defined by self-reported shading on a foot manikin, and was defined as disabling if at least one of the function items of the Manchester Foot Pain and Disability Index were also reported. Population prevalence estimates and associations between plantar heel pain and demographic characteristics, health status measures and lifestyle factors were estimated using multiple imputation and weighted logistic regression. Healthcare professional consultation was summarised as the 12-month period prevalence of foot pain-related consultation. RESULTS: The population prevalence of plantar heel pain was 9.6% (95% CI: 8.8, 10.5) and 7.9% (7.1, 8.7) for disabling plantar heel pain. Occurrence was slightly higher in females, comparable across age-groups, and significantly higher in those with intermediate/routine and manual occupations. Plantar heel pain was associated with physical and mental impairment, more anxiety and depression, being overweight, a low previous use of high-heeled footwear, and lower levels of physical activity and participation. The 12-month period prevalence of foot pain-related consultation with a general practitioner, physiotherapist or podiatrist/chiropodist was 43.0, 15.1 and 32.8%, respectively. CONCLUSIONS: Plantar heel pain is a common, disabling symptom among adults aged 50 years and over. Observed patterns of association indicate that in addition to focused foot-specific management, primary care interventions should also target more general physical and psychological factors that could potentially act as barriers to treatment adherence and recovery.

Original publication




Journal article


Bmc musculoskelet disord

Publication Date





Epidemiology, Plantar heel pain, Prevalence, Age Factors, Aged, Female, Health Status, Health Surveys, Heel, Humans, Life Style, Male, Middle Aged, Musculoskeletal Pain, Patient Compliance, Prevalence, Prospective Studies, Socioeconomic Factors, United Kingdom