Foot Musculoskeletal Disorders, Pain, and Foot-Related Functional Limitation in Older Persons

Authors

  • Fadi Badlissi MD, MSc,

    1. From the *School of Medicine, Boston University, Boston, MassachusettsNew England Research Institutes, Watertown, MassachusettsProgram in Physical Therapy, Sargent College of Health and Rehabilitation Sciences, Boston University, Boston, Massachusetts.
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  • Julie E. Dunn PhD,

    1. From the *School of Medicine, Boston University, Boston, MassachusettsNew England Research Institutes, Watertown, MassachusettsProgram in Physical Therapy, Sargent College of Health and Rehabilitation Sciences, Boston University, Boston, Massachusetts.
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  • Carol L. Link PhD,

    1. From the *School of Medicine, Boston University, Boston, MassachusettsNew England Research Institutes, Watertown, MassachusettsProgram in Physical Therapy, Sargent College of Health and Rehabilitation Sciences, Boston University, Boston, Massachusetts.
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  • Julie J. Keysor PhD, PT,

    1. From the *School of Medicine, Boston University, Boston, MassachusettsNew England Research Institutes, Watertown, MassachusettsProgram in Physical Therapy, Sargent College of Health and Rehabilitation Sciences, Boston University, Boston, Massachusetts.
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  • John B. McKinlay PhD,

    1. From the *School of Medicine, Boston University, Boston, MassachusettsNew England Research Institutes, Watertown, MassachusettsProgram in Physical Therapy, Sargent College of Health and Rehabilitation Sciences, Boston University, Boston, Massachusetts.
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  • David T. Felson MD, MPH

    1. From the *School of Medicine, Boston University, Boston, MassachusettsNew England Research Institutes, Watertown, MassachusettsProgram in Physical Therapy, Sargent College of Health and Rehabilitation Sciences, Boston University, Boston, Massachusetts.
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  • Supported by National Institutes of Health Grants AG15064 and AR47785.

  • Abstracts based on this work were presented at the American College of Rheumatology meetings October 2002, New Orleans, Louisiana, and October 2003, Orlando, Florida.

Address correspondence to Fadi Badlissi, MD, MSc, Urban Medical Group, 545 A Center St, Jamaica Plain, MA 02130. E-mail: Fbadliss@bidmc.harvard.edu

Abstract

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.

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