Objectives: To examine whether common musculoskeletal disorders of feet are associated with pain and foot-related functional limitation.
Design: A cross-sectional study using stratified random sampling.
Setting: A residential community.
Participants: Ethnically diverse sample of elderly persons (n=784).
Measurements: Foot disorders (hallux valgus/bunion, pes planus (flat foot), pes cavus (high arch), hammertoe, mallet toe, claw toe, overlapping toes, bunionette, and plantar fasciitis), foot pain, the foot health functional status (FHFS, range 0–100, 100=no problems) scale, and walk time score (range 0–4, 4=fastest).
Results: Most commonly assessed musculoskeletal disorders, including hallux valgus and toe deformities, were not associated with pain or function limitation. Plantar fasciitis and, to a lesser extent, pes cavus were associated with worse FHFS scores; foot pain partially explained this association. Neither foot disorders nor foot pain were significantly associated with slower walk times.
Conclusion: Many foot disorders had little relationship with foot pain or function and may not require clinical attention when asymptomatic. Risk factors and preventive and therapeutic interventions for plantar fasciitis require further longitudinal investigation.