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Ann Rehabil Med. 2011 Aug;35(4):507-13. doi: 10.5535/arm.2011.35.4.507. Epub 2011 Aug 31.

Clinical characteristics of the causes of plantar heel pain.

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Department of Rehabilitation Medicine, Bundang Jesaeng General Hospital, Seongnam 463-774, Korea.



The objectives of this study were to investigate the causes of plantar heel pain and find differences in the clinical features of plantar fasciitis (PF) and fat pad atrophy (FPA), which are common causes of plantar heel pain, for use in differential diagnosis.


This retrospective study analyzed the medical records of 250 patients with plantar heel pain at the Foot Clinic of Rehabilitation Medicine at Bundang Jesaeng General Hospital from January to September, 2008.


The subjects used in this study were 114 men and 136 women patients with a mean age of 43.8 years and mean heel pain duration of 13.3 months. Causes of plantar heel pain were PF (53.2%), FPA (14.8%), pes cavus (10.4%), PF with FPA (9.2%), pes planus (4.8%), plantar fibromatosis (4.4%), plantar fascia rupture (1.6%), neuropathy (0.8%), and small shoe syndrome (0.8%). PF and FPA were most frequently diagnosed. First-step pain in the morning, and tenderness on medial calcaneal tuberosity correlated with PF. FPA mainly involved bilateral pain, pain at night, and pain that was aggravated by standing. Heel cord tightness was the most common biomechanical abnormality of the foot. Heel spur was frequently seen in X-rays of patients with PF.


Plantar heel pain can be provoked by PF, FPA, and other causes. Patients with PF or FPA typically show different characteristics in clinical features. Plantar heel pain requires differential diagnosis for appropriate treatment.


Fat pad atrophy; Plantar fasciitis; Plantar heel pain

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