Foot pain is associated with female sex, older age and obesity, and its prevalence can range from 13% to 36% depending on which case definition is used, according to data published in Arthritis Care & Research.
“Despite the potential burden of foot pain, to date, some of the most fundamental epidemiological questions surrounding the foot remain poorly explored, particularly with consideration to basic demographic features,” Lucy S. Gates, PhD, of the University of Southampton, England, and colleagues wrote. “Accurately estimating the burden of foot pain among the general population is important so that clinical and cost-effective management strategies can be implemented.”
The researchers noted that “Estimating the proportion of a population with a condition such as foot pain will provide the basis for determining the number of people who may require care, and for monitoring changes in condition occurrence over time.”
Foot pain is associated with female sex, older age and obesity, and its prevalence can range from 13% to 36% depending on which case definition is used, according to data.
To analyze the prevalence of foot pain in a variety of international, population-based cohorts, and to evaluate differences in the case definitions used in each, Gates and colleagues studied data from five projects: the Chingford Women Study; the Johnston County Osteoarthritis Project; the Framingham Foot Study; the Clinical Assessment Study of the Foot, and; the North West Adelaide Health Study. The researchers chose one question related to foot pain from each cohort, based on its similarity to the American College of Rheumatology pain question.
Inclusion criteria limited the study to participants who had responded to the foot pain question. From the Chingford Women Study, an ongoing prospective, longitudinal cohort of women intended to assess risk factors with OA and osteoporosis, the researchers included 655 participants for analysis. From the Johnston County Osteoarthritis Project, which studies the epidemiology of OA among black and white patients in a rural county in North Carolina, the researchers included 1,619. From the Framingham Foot Study, 3,420 were included. A total of 4,490 patients from the Clinical Assessment Study of the Foot were included, as well as 3,145 from the North West Adelaide Health Study.
According to the researchers, the specific definition of foot pain varied across cohorts. Prevalence rates for foot pain ranged from 13% in the Chingford Women Study, which used a case definition specific to pain compared to the other four cohorts, to 36% in the Johnston County Osteoarthritis Project. In contrast to the Chingford Women Study, the other cohorts used case definitions that included pain, aching or stiffness. In addition, the researchers found that foot pain was generally more common among women, patients who are obese and increased with age.
“This study provides useful comparisons of foot pain between five population cohorts,” Gates and colleagues wrote. “Comparisons show that irrespective of geographical location, the prevalence of foot pain is higher among those who are obese and lower in younger participants (20-44 years). Although lower in the younger population, it is important to recognize that foot pain does occur in this age-group and may warrant further investigation and clinical attention.”
Additionally, the researchers found that “between-cohort data for race were limited, however within-cohort results showed foot pain was potentially more prevalent in African participants. Foot pain was also more prevalent in women than men.” – by Jason Laday
Disclosure: Gates reports no relevant financial disclosures. Please see the study for all other authors’ relevant financial disclosures.