Foot Function, Foot Pain, and Falls in Older Adults: The Framingham Foot Study
Background: Although foot pain has been linked to fall risk, contributions of pain severity, foot posture, or foot function are unclear. These factors were examined in a cohort of older adults.
Objective: The purpose of this study was to examine the associations of foot pain, severity of foot pain, and measures of foot posture and dynamic foot function with reported falls in a large, well-described cohort of older adults from the Framingham Foot Study. Methods: Foot pain, posture, and function were collected from Framingham Foot Study participants who were queried about falls over the past year (0, 1, and ≥2 falls). Logistic regression was used to calculate odds ratios (ORs) and 95% confidence intervals (CIs) for the relation of falls with foot pain, pain severity, foot posture, and foot function adjusting for covariates. Results: The mean age of the 1,375 participants was 69 years; 57% were female, and 21% reported foot pain (40% mild pain, 47% moderate pain, and 13% severe pain). One-third reported falls in the past year (1 fall: n = 263, ≥2 falls: n = 152). Foot pain was associated with a 62% increased odds of recurrent falls. Those with moderate and severe foot pain showed increased odds of ≥2 falls (OR 1.78, CI 1.06-2.99, and OR 3.25, CI 1.65-7.48, respectively) compared to those with no foot pain. Foot function was not associated with falls. Compared to normal foot posture, those with planus foot posture had 78% higher odds of ≥2 falls.
Conclusion: Higher odds of recurrent falls were observed in individuals with foot pain, especially severe foot pain, as well as in individuals with planus foot posture, indicating that both foot pain and foot posture may play a role in increasing the risk of falls among older adults.