Low back pain and disability in individuals with plantar heel pain

Foot (Edinb). 2018 Mar;34:18-22. doi: 10.1016/j.foot.2017.09.003. Epub 2017 Sep 28.


Background: Lack of response to plantar heel pain (PHP) treatment may be related to unmanaged low back pain (LBP) and low back dysfunction, but a relationship between LBP and PHP has not been established. The purpose of this investigation was to compare the prevalence of LBP among individuals with and without PHP and to assess the association between low back disability and foot/ankle function.

Methods: A cross-sectional study compared the prevalence and likelihood of LBP in individuals with (n=27) and without (n=27) PHP matched to age, sex, BMI, foot posture, and foot mobility. In individuals with PHP, correlations were examined between foot/ankle function using the foot and ankle ability measure (FAAM), low back disability using the Oswestry low back disability questionnaire (OSW), duration of PHP symptoms, body mass index (BMI), and age.

Results: A greater percentage of individuals with PHP had LBP (74% versus 37% of controls, odds ratio=5.2, P=0.009) and higher levels of low back disability (17% higher OSW score than controls, P<0.001). In individuals with PHP, FAAM scores were correlated with OSW scores (ρ=-0.463, P=0.015), but not with duration of PHP symptoms, BMI, or age (P>0.150).

Conclusions: Individuals with PHP had a greater prevalence of LBP and higher low back disability that was correlated to reduced foot and ankle function. Treatment to address both local and proximal impairments, including impairments related to LBP, may be warranted to improve the management of PHP.

Keywords: Foot function; Lumbar; Plantar fasciitis.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Age Distribution
  • Comorbidity
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Disability Evaluation*
  • Fasciitis, Plantar / diagnosis
  • Fasciitis, Plantar / epidemiology*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Incidence
  • Likelihood Functions
  • Low Back Pain / diagnosis
  • Low Back Pain / epidemiology*
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Pain Measurement*
  • Prognosis
  • Severity of Illness Index
  • Sex Distribution
  • Statistics, Nonparametric