The connection between mental health and plantar heel pain

Simon Bartold22nd of May / blog / articles / the-connection-between-mental-health-and-plantar-heel-pain



I have discussed the connection between heel pain and mental health previously over at, but a new paper brings this issue into focus and makes some important points for all clinicians
it has very recently been published in Musculoskeletal Care. 2018 May 15. [Epub ahead of print]
Psychosocial variables and presence, severity and prognosis of plantar heel pain: A systematic review of cross-sectional and prognostic associations.
Drake , Mallows , Littlewood .

it is a systematic review of limited studies, so we must keep this in mind, it is worth a read in any case.
Plantar heel pain (PHP) is often disabling, and persistent symptoms are common. Psychosocial variables are known to affect pain and disability but the association of these factors with PHP has yet to be established. The purpose of the present systematic review was to determine if psychosocial variables are associated with the presence, severity and prognosis of PHP.

A systematic review of the literature and qualitative synthesis was carried out. Electronic searches of MEDLINE, CINAHL, SPORTDiscus, PsycINFO and EMBASE were undertaken from the inception of the respective databases up to November 2017. Any study design incorporating measurements of psychosocial variables with participants with plantar heel pain were included. The quality of included articles was appraised using the Newcastle Ottawa Scale.

Five articles from four studies were included in the review, with a total of 422 participants. Moderate-level evidence suggested a clinically unimportant association with the incidence of PHP and depression, anxiety and stress, and limited evidence suggested a clinically unimportant association with job dissatisfaction. Moderate-level evidence suggested that there may also be an association between depression, anxiety, stress and catastrophization and PHP pain, and between depression, anxiety, stress, catastrophization and kinesiophobia and PHP function. We also found moderate-level evidence that a psychological disorder may be associated with a poorer outcome to shockwave therapy.

In light of this review, the association of psychosocial variables and plantar heel pain cannot be ruled out. Given recommendations to adopt an individualized and stratified approach to other musculoskeletal conditions, clinicians should remain vigilant to their presence.

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Simon Bartold
Director of Bartold Gold