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Foot pain and inflammatory markers: a cross sectional study in older adults

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posted on 2022-09-06, 02:00 authored by AC Siefkas, AB Dufour, YM Golightly, Hylton MenzHylton Menz, HJ Hillstrom, MT Hannan
BACKGROUND: Foot disorders may limit independence and reduce quality of life for older adults. Obesity is a risk factor for foot conditions; both mechanical load and metabolic effects may contribute to these conditions. This study determined cross-sectional associations between inflammatory markers and foot disorders. METHODS: Participants were drawn from the Framingham Foot Study (2002-2008). C-reactive protein (CRP), interleukin-6 (IL-6), and tumor necrosis factor alpha (TNF-α) were each examined for associations with foot pain, forefoot pain, hindfoot pain, hallux valgus, hallux rigidus, and toe deformities (claw, hammer, or overlapping toes). Unadjusted and adjusted (age, body mass index, physical activity, smoking status) sex-specific logistic regression was performed. RESULTS: Of 909 participants, 54% were women (mean age 65 [Formula: see text] 9 years), 20% had foot pain, 29% had hallux valgus, 3% had hallux rigidus, and 27% had toe deformities. In unadjusted models, higher CRP (OR [95% CI] = 1.5 [1.1, 2.0]) and IL-6 (OR [95% CI] = 1.8 [1.2, 2.6]) were associated with foot pain among men; higher CRP was associated with foot pain (OR [95% CI] = 1.3 [1.0, 1.5]) among women. Higher CRP (OR [95% CI] = 1.9 [1.1, 3.2]) and IL-6 (OR [95% CI] = 2.4 [1.2, 4.7]) were associated with forefoot pain in men. Higher CRP was associated with hindfoot pain ([95% CI] = 1.8 [1.2, 2.6]) in women. After adjustment, CRP ([95% CI] = 1.5 [1.1, 2.0]) and IL-6 ([95% CI] = 1.8 [1.2, 2.6]) remained associated with foot pain in men, and IL-6 with forefoot pain ([95% CI] = 2.9 [1.4, 6.1]) in men. No associations with structural foot disorders were observed. CONCLUSIONS: Inflammation may impact foot pain. Future work assessing whether inflammation is part of the mechanism linking obesity to foot pain may identify areas for intervention and prevention.


This research was supported by a 2019 Graduate Student Preceptorship from the Rheumatology Research Foundation, the National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases and National Institute on Aging (grant number AR047853); and the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute's Framingham Heart Study (N01-HC-25195).


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Journal of Foot and Ankle Research



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Springer Nature



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© The Author(s) 2022 This article is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License, which permits use, sharing, adaptation, distribution and reproduction in any medium or format, as long as you give appropriate credit to the original author(s) and the source, provide a link to the Creative Commons licence, and indicate if changes were made. The images or other third party material in this article are included in the article's Creative Commons licence, unless indicated otherwise in a credit line to the material. If material is not included in the article's Creative Commons licence and your intended use is not permitted by statutory regulation or exceeds the permitted use, you will need to obtain permission directly from the copyright holder. The Creative Commons Public Domain Dedication waiver ( applies to the data made available in this article, unless otherwise stated in a credit line to the data.

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