Research Article| Volume 19, ISSUE 8, P885-896, August 2018

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Prevalence and Pharmaceutical Treatment of Plantar Fasciitis in United States Adults

  • Richard L. Nahin
    Address reprint requests to Richard L. Nahin, PhD, National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health, National Institutes of Health, 6707 Democracy Blvd., Suite 401, Bethesda, MD 20892-5475.
    National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health, National Institutes of Health, Bethesda, Maryland
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      • Plantar fasciitis pain prevalence was presented for United State adults.
      • Most individuals with plantar fasciitis reported at least moderate daily pain.
      • Disease severity was associated with pharmaceutical therapy.
      • Black individuals and those diagnosed by medical specialists had severer disease.
      • These 2 groups were also more likely to receive pharmaceutical therapy.


      This study provides prevalence estimates of plantar fasciitis in U.S. adults, as well as the types and frequencies of pharmaceutical treatment specifically for this pain. Data are from the 2013 National Health and Wellness Survey, a large (n = 75,000) internet panel survey designed to approximate the adult U.S. population. Strengths of associations are determined using multivariable logistic regression. It was estimated that .85% (95% confidence interval [CI] = .77–.92) of the sample reported diagnosed plantar fasciitis with pain in the past month. Higher prevalence of plantar fasciitis was seen in women (1.19%; referent) versus men (.47%), in those aged 45 to 64 (1.33%) versus those aged 18 to 44 (.53%; referent) years, and in the obese (1.48%) versus those with a body mass <25 (.29%; referent). Prescription medications for pain were used by 41.04% of plantar fasciitis respondents, but only 6.31% attributed this use specifically to plantar fasciitis pain. Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (4.01%) and opioids (2.21%) were the most prevalent prescription drugs used specifically for plantar fasciitis pain. Almost 70% of individuals with plantar fasciitis used over the counter (OTC) analgesics for general pain management, with OTC nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs being used by 49.47% and acetaminophen by 26.93% of respondents. Individuals diagnosed by medical specialists had twice the odds of using prescription drugs as those diagnosed by other providers (odds ratio = 2.12; 95% CI = 1.01–4.46). Non-Hispanic black individuals were more likely to use prescription pain medications specifically for plantar fasciitis pain than non-Hispanic white individuals (odds ratio = 3.02; 95% CI = 1.05–8.70).


      The current study provides additional insights into the pain and disability associated with plantar fasciitis, as well as the pharmaceutical treatments being used for its management. Prescription as well as OTC medications are used to manage plantar fasciitis symptoms despite limited, if any, clinical trial data supporting their use.

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