BOSTON — Researchers from Hebrew Senior Life’s Institute for Aging Research have discovered that foot pain - particularly severe foot pain - correlates to a higher incidence of recurrent falls. This finding also extends to those diagnosed with planus foot posture (flat feet), indicating that both foot pain and foot posture may play a role in falls among older adults.
Using data from the Framingham Foot study, researchers found that foot pain and foot posture were not associated with any one fall; however, in the case of multiple falls, foot pain and foot posture were often a factor. These findings were published today in the journal Gerontology.
“We know that having more than one fall can be of concern. Many don’t think of feet as the culprit. However, higher odds of recurrent falls were seen for those with foot pain, especially severe foot pain, as well as those with planus foot posture, indicating that both foot pain and foot posture may play a role in falls,” said Marian Hannan, Co -Director of the Musculoskeletal Research Center at the Institute for Aging Research and Associate Professor of Public Health, Harvard School of Public Health.
“This is important because falls are a serious problem for older adults. They are a leading cause of hospitalization and often lead to a loss of independence, a decrease in quality of life, and sometimes death. With this new knowledge we hope to find more solutions to lessen the risk of falls in older adults,” said Lead author Arunima Awale, Research Associate at Hebrew Senior Life’s Institute for Aging Research.
More than 30 percent of individuals over the age of 65 fall at least once a year. This figure increases to over 40% for persons aged 75 years or older. As a result of this study, scientists are hopeful that by lessening the instance of foot pain in older adults they can significantly reduce hospitalizations and loss of independence for American seniors.
This study was supported by the National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Disease and National Institute of Aging (grant number AR047853); and the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute’s Framingham Heart Study N01-HC-25195).
About the Institute for Aging Research
Scientists at the Institute for Aging Research seek to transform the human experience of aging by conducting research that will ensure a life of health, dignity and productivity into advanced age. The Institute carries out rigorous studies that discover the mechanisms of age-related disease and disability; lead to the prevention, treatment and cure of disease; advance the standard of care for older people; and inform public decision-making. The Aging Brain Center within IFAR studies cognitive aging and conditions affecting brain health.
About Hebrew SeniorLife
Hebrew SeniorLife, an affiliate of Harvard Medical School, is a national senior services leader uniquely dedicated to rethinking, researching and redefining the possibilities of aging. Founded in Boston in 1903, the nonprofit, non-sectarian organization today provides communities and health care for seniors, research into aging, and education for geriatric care providers. For more information about Hebrew SeniorLife, visit http://www.hebrewseniorlife.org, follow us on Twitter @H_SeniorLife, like us on Facebook or read our blog.