Plantar heel pain in middle-aged and older adults: population prevalence, associations with health status and lifestyle factors, and frequency of healthcare use.
Thomas MJ., Whittle R., Menz HB., Rathod-Mistry T., Marshall M., Roddy E.
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.