OBJECTIVES: To determine whether foot pain and plantar pressure are associated with falls in community-dwelling older adults.
DESIGN: Community-based cohort study with 12-month prospective falls follow-up.
SETTING: Sydney and Illawarra statistical regions of New South Wales, Australia.
PARTICIPANTS: Randomly recruited, community-dwelling adults (158 men and 154 women) aged 60 and older.
MEASUREMENTS: Manchester Foot Pain and Disability Index to establish baseline foot pain and dynamic plantar pressures. Participants were then classified as fallers (n = 107) or nonfallers (n = 196) based on their falls incidence over the following 12 months.
RESULTS: Fallers had a significantly higher prevalence of foot pain than non-fallers (57.9% vs 42.1%; chi-square = 4.0; p =0.04). Fallers also generated a significantly higher peak pressure and pressure-time integral under the foot than nonfallers. In addition, individuals with foot pain had a significantly higher peak pressure and pressure-time integral under the foot than those without foot pain.
CONCLUSION: High plantar pressures generated during gait may contribute to foot pain and discomfort, contributing to risk of falls. Providing interventions to older people with foot pain and high plantar pressures may play a role in reducing their falls risk.