Objective. To estimate the incidence of, and factors associated with, consultation for musculoskeletal foot problems in primary care.
Methods. Survey data from 13 986 people aged ≥50 years who took part in the North Staffordshire Osteoarthritis Project were linked to a database of primary care consultations. Foot problems were defined as responding affirmatively to the questions: ‘Have you had any problems with your feet over the last year?’ or ‘Have you had pain in the last year in and around the foot?’. The main outcome measure was a record of a musculoskeletal foot-related consultation within 18 months following the survey.
Results. Of the 3858 participants with foot problems who had not consulted before the survey, 350 (9.1%) consulted in the 18 months following the survey. Age, sex, education, general health and pain in other regions were not associated with future consultation. However, those who consulted were more likely to have reported foot pain [adjusted odds ratio (OR) 2.04; 95% CI 1.22, 3.42) and to consider treatments to be effective in controlling disease (OR 1.54; 95% CI 1.07, 2.21) in the baseline survey, and to have been a frequent consulter in the 18 months before the survey (OR 1.65; 95% CI 1.30, 2.09).
Conclusions. Only a minority of older people with musculoskeletal foot problems consult their general practitioner about them. Foot pain, frequent consultation for other problems and positive perceptions of treatment efficacy appear to be the strongest factors influencing future consultation.
Foot deformities; Osteoarthritis; Pain; Consultation
Objective. Foot and ankle problems are highly prevalent in the general population; however, little is known about the characteristics of those seeking medical assessment for these problems. The objective of this study was to explore the extent and types of musculoskeletal foot and ankle problems in primary care.
Methods. Consultation data related to musculoskeletal foot and ankle problems in 2006 were extracted from the Consultations in Primary Care Archive (CiPCA), which covers consultations in 12 general practices in North Staffordshire. Data were cross-tabulated by age and gender, and annual consultation prevalence per 10 000 registered persons was calculated.
Results. Of the 55 033 musculoskeletal consultations documented in CiPCA in 2006, 4500 (8%) related to foot and ankle problems. The most commonly documented Read term was ‘foot pain’ (1281 consultations; 28%), followed by ‘ankle pain’ [451 (10%)]. Most consultations [3538 (79%)] involved non-traumatic conditions. Females accounted for slightly more consultations than males (55 vs 45%), and the highest proportion of consultations involved people aged 45–64 years (36%). The number of consultations per patient ranged from 1 to 11. Annual consultation prevalence was 290 per 10 000 registered persons and increased with age, reaching a peak in the 65- to 74-year age group (411 per 10 000 registered persons).
Conclusion. Foot and ankle problems account for a substantial number of consultations in primary care, and most frequently involve non-traumatic conditions. Further research is required to evaluate the factors that influence consultation for foot problems and strategies that general practitioners use to manage these conditions.
Foot deformities; Osteoarthritis; Pain; Consultation
Several footwear design characteristics are known to have detrimental effects on the foot. However, one characteristic that has received relatively little attention is the point where the sole flexes in the sagittal plane. Several footwear assessment forms assume that this should ideally be located directly under the metarsophalangeal joints (MTPJs), but this has not been directly evaluated. The aim of this study was therefore to assess the influence on plantar loading of different locations of the shoe sole flexion point.
Twenty-one asymptomatic females with normal foot posture participated. Standardised shoes were incised directly underneath the metatarsophalangeal joints, proximal to the MTPJs or underneath the midfoot. The participants walked in a randomised sequence of the three shoes whilst plantar loading patterns were obtained using the Pedar® in-shoe pressure measurement system. The foot was divided into nine anatomically important masks, and peak pressure (PP), contact time (CT) and pressure time integral (PTI) were determined. A ratio of PP and PTI between MTPJ2-3/MTPJ1 was also calculated.
Wearing the shoe with the sole flexion point located proximal to the MTPJs resulted in increased PP under MTPJ 4–5 (6.2%) and decreased PP under the medial midfoot compared to the sub-MTPJ flexion point (−8.4%). Wearing the shoe with the sole flexion point located under the midfoot resulted in decreased PP, CT and PTI in the medial and lateral hindfoot (PP: −4.2% and −5.1%, CT: −3.4% and −6.6%, PTI: −6.9% and −5.7%) and medial midfoot (PP: −5.9% CT: −2.9% PTI: −12.2%) compared to the other two shoes.
The findings of this study indicate that the location of the sole flexion point of the shoe influences plantar loading patterns during gait. Specifically, shoes with a sole flexion point located under the midfoot significantly decrease the magnitude and duration of loading under the midfoot and hindfoot, which may be indicative of an earlier heel lift.
Osteoarthritis affecting the first metatarsophalangeal joint of the foot is a common condition which results in pain, stiffness and impaired ambulation. Footwear modifications and foot orthoses are widely used in clinical practice to treat this condition, but their effectiveness has not been rigorously evaluated. This article describes the design of a randomised trial comparing the effectiveness of rocker-sole footwear and individualised prefabricated foot orthoses in reducing pain associated with first metatarsophalangeal joint osteoarthritis.
Eighty people with first metatarsophalangeal joint osteoarthritis will be randomly allocated to receive either a pair of rocker-sole shoes (MBT® Matwa, Masai Barefoot Technology, Switzerland) or a pair of individualised, prefabricated foot orthoses (Vasyli Customs, Vasyli Medical™, Queensland, Australia). At baseline, the biomechanical effects of the interventions will be examined using a wireless wearable sensor motion analysis system (LEGSys™, BioSensics, Boston, MA, USA) and an in-shoe plantar pressure system (Pedar®, Novel GmbH, Munich, Germany). The primary outcome measure will be the pain subscale of the Foot Health Status Questionnaire (FHSQ), measured at baseline and 4, 8 and 12 weeks. Secondary outcome measures will include the function, footwear and general foot health subscales of the FHSQ, severity of pain and stiffness at the first metatarsophalangeal joint (measured using 100 mm visual analog scales), global change in symptoms (using a 15-point Likert scale), health status (using the Short-Form-12® Version 2.0 questionnaire), use of rescue medication and co-interventions to relieve pain, the frequency and type of self-reported adverse events and physical activity levels (using the Incidental and Planned Activity Questionnaire). Data will be analysed using the intention to treat principle.
This study is the first randomised trial to compare the effectiveness of rocker-sole footwear and individualised prefabricated foot orthoses in reducing pain associated with osteoarthritis of the first metatarsophalangeal joint, and only the third randomised trial ever conducted for this condition. The study has been pragmatically designed to ensure that the findings can be implemented into clinical practice if the interventions are found to be effective, and the baseline biomechanical analysis will provide useful insights into their mechanism of action.
Australian New Zealand Clinical Trials Registry: ACTRN12613001245785
Plantar forefoot pain is commonly experienced by older people and it is often treated with forefoot pads to offload the painful area. However, studies have found inconsistent effects for different forefoot pads on plantar pressure reduction, and optimum forefoot pad placement is still not clear. The aim of this study was to compare the effects of different forefoot pads on plantar pressure under the forefoot in older people with forefoot pain.
Thirty-seven adults (31 females, 6 males) with a mean age of 73.5 (SD 4.8) participated. Forefoot plantar pressure data were recorded using the pedar®-X in-shoe system while participants walked along an 8 m walkway. Five conditions were tested in a standardised shoe: (i) no padding (the control), (ii) a metatarsal dome positioned 10 mm proximal to the metatarsal heads, (iii) a metatarsal dome positioned 5 mm distal to the metatarsal heads, (iv) a metatarsal bar, and (v) a plantar cover.
Compared to the shoe-only control condition, each of the forefoot pads significantly reduced forefoot peak pressure and maximum force. The metatarsal dome positioned 5 mm distal to the metatarsal heads and the plantar cover were most effective for reducing peak pressure (17%, p < 0.001 and 19%, p < 0.001, respectively).
These findings indicate that forefoot pads are effective for reducing forefoot pressures in older people with forefoot pain, and that the position of the pad relative to the metatarsal heads may be more important than the shape of the pad.
Aged; Pain; Forefoot; Orthotic devices; Gait; Kinetics
Ill-fitting footwear is a common problem in older people. The objective of this study was to determine the accuracy of shoe fitting in older people by comparing the dimensions of allocated shoes to foot dimensions obtained with a three-dimensional (3D) scanner.
The shoe sizes of 56 older people were determined with the Brannock device®, and weightbearing foot scans were obtained with the FotoScan 3D scanner (Precision 3D Ltd, Weston-super-mare, UK). Participants were provided with a pair of shoes (Dr Comfort®, Vista, CA, USA), available in three width fittings (medium, wide and extra wide). The dimensions (length, ball width and ball girth) of the allocated shoes were documented according to the last measurements provided by the manufacturer. Mean differences between last dimensions and foot dimensions obtained with the 3D scanner were calculated to provide an indication of shoe fitting accuracy. Participants were also asked to report their perception of shoe fit and comfort, using 100 mm visual analogue scales (VAS).
Shoe size ranged from US size 7 to 14 for men and 5.5 to 11 for women. The allocated shoes were significantly longer than the foot (mean 23.6 mm, 95% confidence interval [CI] 22.1 to 25.2; t55 = 30.3, p < 0.001), however there were no significant differences in relation to ball width (mean 1.4 mm, 95% CI −0.1 to 2.9 mm; t55 = 1.9, p = 0.066) or ball girth (mean −0.7 mm, 95% CI −6.1 to 4.8 mm; t55 = −0.2, p = 0.810). Participants reported favourable perceptions of shoe fit (mean VAS = 90.7 mm, 95% CI 88.4 to 93.1 mm) and comfort (mean VAS = 88.4 mm, 95% CI 85.0 to 91.8 mm).
Shoe size selection using the Brannock device® resulted in the allocation of shoes with last dimensions that were well matched to the dimensions of the foot. Participants also considered the shoes to be well fitted and comfortable. Older people with disabling foot pain can therefore be dispensed with appropriately-fitted shoes using this technique, provided that the style and materials used are suitable and extra width fittings are available.
Foot; Aged; Shoes; Anthropometry
Foot pain drawings (manikins) are commonly used to describe foot pain location in self-report health surveys. Respondents shade the manikin where they experience pain. The manikin is then scored via a transparent overlay that divides the drawings into areas. In large population based studies they are often scored by multiple raters. A difference in how different raters score manikins (inter-rater repeatability), or in how an individual rater scores manikins over time (intra-rater repeatability) can therefore affect data quality. This study aimed to assess inter- and intra-rater repeatability of scoring of the foot manikin.
A random sample was generated of 50 respondents to a large population based survey of adults aged 50 years and older who experienced foot pain and completed a foot manikin. Manikins were initially scored by any one of six administrative staff (Rating 1). These manikins were re-scored by a second rater (Rating 2). The second rater then re-scored the manikins one week later (Rating 3). The following scores were compared: Rating 1 versus Rating 2 (inter-rater repeatability), and Rating 2 versus Rating 3 (intra-rater repeatability). A novel set of clinically relevant foot pain regions made up of one or more individual areas on the foot manikin were developed, and assessed for inter- and intra-rater repeatability.
Scoring agreement of 100% (all 50 manikins) was seen in 69% (40 out of 58) of individual areas for inter-rater scoring (range 94 to 100%), and 81% (47 out of 58) of areas for intra-rater scoring (range 96 to 100%). All areas had a kappa value of ≥0.70 for inter- and intra-rater scoring. Scoring agreement of 100% was seen in 50% (10 out of 20) of pain regions for inter-rater scoring (range 96 to 100%), and 95% (19 out of 20) of regions for intra-rater scoring (range 98 to 100%). All regions had a kappa value of >0.70 for inter- and intra-rater scoring.
Individual and multiple raters can reliably score the foot pain manikin. In addition, our proposed regions may be used to reliably classify different patterns of foot pain using the foot manikin.
Foot pain; Pain drawings; Manikins; Reliability; Repeatability; Agreement
Foot disorders are common among older adults and may lead to outcomes such as falls and functional limitation. However, the associations of foot posture and foot function to specific foot disorders at the population level remain poorly understood. The purpose of this study was to assess the relation between specific foot disorders, foot posture, and foot function.
Participants were from the population-based Framingham Foot Study. Quintiles of the modified arch index and center of pressure excursion index from plantar pressure scans were used to create foot posture and function subgroups. Adjusted odds ratios of having each specific disorder were calculated for foot posture and function subgroups relative to a referent 3 quintiles.
Pes planus foot posture was associated with increased odds of hammer toes and overlapping toes. Cavus foot posture was not associated with the foot disorders evaluated. Odds of having hallux valgus and overlapping toes were significantly increased in those with pronated foot function, while odds of hallux valgus and hallux rigidus were significantly decreased in those with supinated function.
Foot posture and foot function were associated with the presence of specific foot disorders.
Dynamic joint loading, particularly the external knee adduction moment (KAM), is an important surrogate measure for the medio-lateral distribution of force across the knee joint in people with knee osteoarthritis (OA). Foot motion may alter the load on the medial tibiofemoral joint and hence affect the KAM. Therefore, this study aimed to investigate the relationship between tibia, rearfoot and forefoot motion in the frontal and transverse planes and the KAM in people with medial compartment knee OA.
Motion of the knee, tibia, rearfoot and forefoot and knee moments were evaluated in 32 patients with clinically and radiographically-confirmed OA, predominantly in the medial compartment. Pearson’s correlation coefficient was used to investigate the association between peak values of tibia, rearfoot and forefoot motion in the frontal and transverse planes and 1st peak KAM, 2nd peak KAM, and the knee adduction angular impulse (KAAI).
Lateral tilt of the tibia was significantly associated with increased 1st peak KAM (r = 0.60, p < 0.001), 2nd peak KAM (r = 0.67, p = 0.001) and KAAI (r = 0.82, p = 0.001). Increased peak rearfoot eversion was significantly correlated with decreased 2nd peak KAM (r = 0.59, p < 0.001) and KAAI (r = 0.50, p = 0.004). Decreased rearfoot internal rotation was significantly associated with increased 2nd peak KAM (r = −0.44, p = 0.01) and KAAI (r = −0.38, p = 0.02), while decreased rearfoot internal rotation relative to the tibia was significantly associated with increased 2nd peak KAM (r = 0.43, p = 0.01). Significant negative correlations were found between peak forefoot eversion relative to the rearfoot and 2nd peak KAM (r = −0.53, p = 0.002) and KAAI (r = −0.51, p = 0.003) and between peak forefoot inversion and 2nd peak KAM (r = −0.54, p = 0.001) and KAAI (r = −0.48, p = 0.005).
Increased rearfoot eversion, rearfoot internal rotation and forefoot inversion are associated with reduced knee adduction moments during the stance phase of gait, suggesting that medial knee joint loading is reduced in people with OA who walk with greater foot pronation. These findings have implications for the design of load-modifying interventions in people with knee OA.
Knee osteoarthritis; Foot motion; Knee adduction moment
Plantar calluses are a common cause of foot pain, which can have a detrimental impact on the mobility and independence of older people. Scalpel debridement is often the first treatment used for this condition. Our aim was to evaluate the effectiveness of scalpel debridement of painful plantar calluses in older people.
This study was a parallel-group, participant- and assessor-blinded randomized trial. Eighty participants aged 65 years and older with painful forefoot plantar calluses were recruited. Participants were randomly allocated to one of two groups: either real or sham scalpel debridement. Participants were followed for six weeks after their initial intervention appointment. The primary outcomes measured were the difference between groups in pain (measured on a 100-mm visual analogue scale) immediately post-intervention, and at one, three and six weeks post-intervention.
Both the real debridement and sham debridement groups experienced a reduction in pain when compared with baseline. Small, systematic between-group differences in pain scores were found at each time point (between 2 and 7 mm favoring real scalpel debridement); however, none of these were statistically significant and none reached a level that could be considered clinically worthwhile. Scalpel debridement caused no adverse events.
The benefits of real scalpel debridement for reducing pain associated with forefoot plantar calluses in older people are small and not statistically significant compared with sham scalpel debridement. When used alone, scalpel debridement has a limited effect in the short term, although it is relatively inexpensive and causes few complications. However, these findings do not preclude the possibility of cumulative benefits over a longer time period or additive effects when combined with other interventions.
Australian Clinical Trials Registry (ACTRN012606000176561).
Aged; Callosities; Foot; Mobility limitation; Pain
Foot pain is highly prevalent in older people, and in many cases is associated with wearing inadequate footwear. In Australia, the Department of Veterans’ Affairs (DVA) covers the costs of medical grade footwear for veterans who have severe foot deformity. However, there is a high demand for footwear by veterans with foot pain who do not meet this eligibility criterion. Therefore, this article describes the design of a randomized controlled trial to evaluate the effectiveness of low cost, off-the-shelf footwear in reducing foot pain in DVA recipients who are currently not eligible for medical grade footwear.
One hundred and twenty DVA clients with disabling foot pain residing in Melbourne, Australia, who are not eligible for medical grade footwear will be recruited from the DVA database, and will be randomly allocated to an intervention group or a ‘usual care’ control group. The intervention group will continue to receive their usual DVA-subsidized podiatry care in addition to being provided with low-cost, supportive footwear (Dr Comfort®, Vasyli Medical, Labrador, Queensland, Australia). The control group will also continue to receive DVA-subsidized podiatry care, but will not be provided with the footwear until the completion of the study. The primary outcome measure will be pain subscale on the Foot Health Status Questionnaire (FHSQ), measured at baseline and 4, 8, 12 and 16 weeks. Secondary outcome measures measured at baseline and 16 weeks will include the function subscale of the FHSQ, the Manchester Foot Pain and Disability Index, the number of DVA podiatry treatments required during the study period, general health-related quality of life (using the Short Form 12® Version 2.0), the number of falls experienced during the follow-up period, the Timed Up and Go test, the presence of hyperkeratotic lesions (corns and calluses), the number of participants using co-interventions to relieve foot pain, and participants’ perception of overall treatment effect. Data will be analyzed using the intention-to-treat principle.
This study is the first randomized controlled trial to evaluate the effectiveness of off-the-shelf footwear in reducing foot pain in DVA recipients. The intervention has been pragmatically designed to ensure that the study findings can be implemented into policy and clinical practice if found to be effective.
Australian New Zealand Clinical Trials Registry: ACTRN12612000322831
Postural stability can be measured in clinical and research settings using portable plantar pressure systems. People with rheumatoid arthritis (RA) have decreased postural stability compared to non-RA populations and impaired postural stability is associated with falls in people with RA. The purpose of this study was therefore to investigate the reliability of the TekScan MatScan® system in assessing postural stability in people with RA.
Twenty three participants with RA, mean (SD) age 69.74 (10.1) years, were assessed in barefoot double-limb quiet standing, with eyes open and eyes closed, for antero-posterior and medio-lateral postural sway values. Three repetitions, at a sampling frequency of 40 Hz, were recorded for each test condition to obtain a mean value. Measurements were repeated one hour later. Intraclass correlation coefficients (ICC) with 95% confidence intervals (CI) were calculated to determine between-session reliability. Measurement error was assessed through the calculation of the standard error of the measurement (SEM) and the smallest real difference (SRD).
The system displayed good to excellent reliability for antero-posterior and medio-lateral sway, with eyes open and closed, as indicated by ICC values ranging from 0.84 to 0.92. Measurement error, as evidenced by the SEM, ranged from 1.27 to 2.35 mm. The degree of change required to exceed the expected trial to trial variability was relatively high, compared to mean values, with SRD ranging from 3.08 to 5.71 mm.
The portability and ease of use of the TekScan MatScan® makes it a useful tool for the measurement of postural stability in clinical and research settings. The TekScan MatScan® system can reliably measure double-limb quiet standing in older people, aged 60 to 80 years, with RA.
Postural sway; Balance; Falls; Rheumatoid arthritis; Pressure system
The relationship between health-related quality of life (HRQoL) in people with Parkinson’s disease and their caregivers is little understood and any effects on caregiver strain remain unclear. This paper examines these relationships in an Australian sample.
Using the generic EuroQol (EQ-5D) and disease-specific Parkinson’s Disease Questionnaire-39 Item (PDQ-39), HRQoL was evaluated in a sample of 97 people with PD and their caregivers. Caregiver strain was assessed using the Modified Caregiver Strain Index. Associations were evaluated between: (i) caregiver and care-recipient HRQoL; (ii) caregiver HRQoL and caregiver strain, and; (iii) between caregiver strain and care-recipient HRQoL.
No statistically significant relationships were found between caregiver and care-recipient HRQoL, or between caregiver HRQoL and caregiver strain. Although this Australian sample of caregivers experienced relatively good HRQoL and moderately low strain, a significant correlation was found between HRQoL of people with PD and caregiver strain (rho 0.43, p < .001).
Poor HRQoL in people with PD is associated with higher strain in caregivers. Therapy interventions may target problems reported as most troublesome by people with PD, with potential to reduce strain on the caregiver.
The high incidence of falls associated with Parkinson’s disease (PD) increases the risk of injuries and immobility and compromises quality of life. Although falls education and strengthening programs have shown some benefit in healthy older people, the ability of physical therapy interventions in home settings to reduce falls and improve mobility in people with Parkinson’s has not been convincingly demonstrated.
180 community living people with PD will be randomly allocated to receive either a home-based integrated rehabilitation program (progressive resistance strength training, movement strategy training and falls education) or a home-based life skills program (control intervention). Both programs comprise one hour of treatment and one hour of structured homework per week over six weeks of home therapy. Blinded assessments occurring before therapy commences, the week after completion of therapy and 12 months following intervention will establish both the immediate and long-term benefits of home-based rehabilitation. The number of falls, number of repeat falls, falls rate and time to first fall will be the primary measures used to quantify outcome. The economic costs associated with injurious falls, and the costs of running the integrated rehabilitation program from a health system perspective will be established. The effects of intervention on motor and global disability and on quality of life will also be examined.
This study will provide new evidence on the outcomes and cost effectiveness of home-based movement rehabilitation programs for people living with PD.
The trial is registered on the Australian and New Zealand Clinical Trials Registry (ACTRN12608000390381).
Parkinson’s disease; Accidental falls; Randomized controlled trial; Falls prevention
Foot posture is considered to be an important component of musculoskeletal assessment in clinical practice and research. However, many measurement approaches are not suitable for routine use as they are time-consuming or require specialised equipment and/or clinical expertise. The objective of this study was therefore to develop and evaluate a simple visual tool for foot posture assessment based on the Arch Index (AI) that could be used in clinical and research settings.
Fully weightbearing footprints from 602 people aged 62 to 96 years were obtained using a carbon paper imprint material, and cut-off AI scores dividing participants into three categories (high, normal and low) were determined using the central limit theorem (i.e. normal = +/− 1 standard deviation from the mean). A visual tool was then created using representative examples for the boundaries of each category. Two examiners were then asked to use the tool to independently grade the footprints of 60 participants (20 for each of the three categories, randomly presented), and then repeat the process two weeks later. Inter- and intra-tester reliability was determined using Spearman’s rho, percentage agreement and weighted kappa statistics. The validity of the examiner’s assessments was evaluated by comparing their categorisations to the actual AI score using Spearman’s rho and analysis of variance (ANOVA), and to the actual AI category using percentage agreement, Spearman’s rho and weighted kappa.
Inter- and intra-tester reliability of the examiners was almost perfect (percentage agreement = 93 to 97%; Spearman’s rho = 0.91 to 0.95, and weighted kappas = 0.85 to 0.93). Examiner’s scores were strongly correlated with actual AI values (Spearman’s rho = 0.91 to 0.94 and significant differences between all categories with ANOVA; p < 0.001) and AI categories (percentage agreement = 95 to 98%; Spearman’s rho = 0.89 to 0.94, and weighted kappas = 0.87 to 0.94). There was a slight tendency for examiners to categorise participants as having higher arches than their AI scores indicated.
Foot posture can be quickly and reliably categorised as high, normal or low in older people using a simplified visual categorisation tool based on the AI.