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Abstract

Objective

To determine whether disabling foot pain is associated with foot function characteristics, functional ability, and health-related quality of life (HRQOL) in older adults.

Methods

The Manchester Foot Pain and Disability Index was used to establish the presence of foot pain in 312 community-dwelling men and women age >60 years. Ankle dorsiflexion strength and flexibility, foot reaction time, hallux and lesser toe flexor strength, and spatiotemporal gait parameters were measured to characterize foot function. Participants completed postural sway tasks and the Short Form 36 Health Survey (SF-36) as a measure of HRQOL. Participants with disabling foot pain, classified using both the original and conservative (at least 1 item scored as “most/every day”) definitions, were then compared to those without pain, adjusting for sex and body mass index.

Results

Participants with foot pain scored significantly lower on the total SF-36 and all subcomponents. Ankle dorsiflexion strength, hallux strength, stride length, step length, and walking speed were significantly reduced in those with foot pain. After applying a more conservative cutoff for disabling foot pain, reduced toe flexor strength, increased foot reaction time, increased postural sway, increased time in double support, and reduced time in single support emerged as additional characteristics of those with disabling foot pain.

Conclusion

Older people with disabling foot pain exhibit reduced HRQOL, functional impairment, and alterations to foot function that may contribute to an increased risk of falling. Providing interventions to older people to reduce foot pain and improve foot function may play a role in improving mobility and quality of life.