Heel Pain & Plantar Fasciitis Survey Results

Survey - 2,655 responses

40% of the visitors who fill out the survey have had heel pain over a year. Average age is 41. 85% said it's worse in the morning. 24% said it takes less than 5 minutes of being on their feet to cause the pain to increase. 36% do not know what caused it. When sitting, 22% have no pain and 7% have severe pain. The primary type of pain (visitors could choose only one) is sharp (38%), like a stone bruise (30%), throbbing (19%), or dull (10%), but rarely tingling or numb (2%). 37% have had injections. Male sufferers weigh 12 pounds above the average American male (which is already hefty) and female sufferers weigh 30 pounds above their counterparts (our data was compared to 1999 CDC data). 6 out of 7 of our heaviest visitors are female (n=442, BMI>=35). 27% who had an injection indicated the pain from the injection was "horrific". Journal articles report it's in both feet in 15% to 35% of the cases. Our surveys indicate it's in both feet 45% of the time, but only in 14% are they equally painful. Our visitors rank podiatrists, physical therapists, and acupuncture better than orthopedic surgeons. 8% of our visitors have had surgery. About 25% of the 209 surgeries reported have made it worse. 18% have not seen a doctor. 69% say it hurts to the touch. 97% say they have "heel pain". 72% are female (almost 3 out of 4). Tylenol had the lowest percentage of "helping" at 17% n=856, presumably because it is not an anti-inflammatory like ibuprofen, Aleve, and aspirin which rank higher at 49% helped and 3% harmed (n=1688). 30% claimed to have a high arch, 19% said flat foot, 40% said normal, and 10% said unknown. 35% said the pain increases if they walk less than 10 yards, but only 24% said the pain increases if they are "on their feet" for less than 5 minutes. 55% of americans are at least overweight (BMI>=25) and 22% are obese (BMI>=30). 74% (3 out of 4) of the respondents were at least overweight and 40% were obese. The top ranking treatments were, in order: heelspurs.com, rest, ice, tape, night splint, podiatrist, self tape, calf muscle stretch, physical therapist, fascia/foot stretch, shot.

To research this database, go to Search heelspurs.com Survey Database

Single-Question Surveys

I'm running short, one-question surveys on the home page to check the validity of the longer surveys. The questions are run only as long as it takes to achieve a desired statistical significance.
  • How much do you weigh in pounds? 324 responses, average=186, median=176
  • How many months have you had it? 206 responses, average=17, median=9. If responses above 60 months (5 years) are excluded, the average is 13, and the median is 9.
  • Do you have pain in your heel? yes=97, no=3
  • Are you male or female? 72% female (3 out of 4). n=313.
  • Future questions are below. If you have a suggestion for a question, email it to me.
  • Do you have a heel spur?
  • Does your foot pain seem to move to different areas?
  • If you've had cortizone shots, how long did they give relief?
  • Currently, is the pain mainly in the arch, heel, or both?
"Median" is a more meaningful measurement of the results than average for some of the questions because it is the value where 50% of the responses were greater and 50% were lower, whereas an "average" is biased high because some responses are way above the others, but no responses can be way below the others to balance it out because you can't have a response lower than zero. Note: about 3% of my visitors are from outside the U.S. (during year 2000 based on check of domain names)

1997 and 1998 Surveys

Between October 1 and December 31, 1997 survey questionnaire #1 (here's the form that was used) was filled out 502 times (accidental duplicate entries were deleted). Between January 1, 1998 and September 31, 1998, a survey questionnaire #2 was filled out 802 times (here's the form that was used). The results of the two different designs were very consistent.

Out of 14 options, respondents could choose up to 3 as "helped the most" and up to 2 as "helped the least". Home The Book Dr Articles Products Message Boards Journal Articles Search Our Surveys Surgery ESWT Dr Messages Find Good Drs video

Treatment Number of
% Helped Plus or Minus for
95% Confidence Interval, 1.96 SQRT(pq/n)
Arch Support 530 82% 3%
Stretching 457 79% 4%
Rest 411 71% 4%
Night Splints 98 68% 9%
Lost Weight 105 67% 9%
Ice 346 66% 5%
Massage 231 65% 6%
Cast 51 63% 13%
Tape 217 62% 6%
Surgery 75 61% 11%
Heel Pads 404 56% 5%
Injections 405 55% 5%
Pills 366 51% 5%
Acupuncture 42 45% 15%
Chiropractor 42 45% 15%
Ultrasound 36 22% 14%
Heat 62 34% 12%

Judging from the numbers above, it appears night splints should be applied more often and injections should be tried less often.

Other Results of Survey #1 (502 Responses)

Age (n=238, late question added to 1st survey):
1% in 10s
10% in 20s
30% in 30s
40% in 40s
15% in 50s
4% over 59

62% were female (n=255, late question added to 1st survey). This doesn't seem significant, but if it were a little higher, 66.67% would mean there are twice as many female as male patients.

47% had injections. 25% rated the pain from the injection as "horrific", 31% rated it "pretty bad", and 44% rated it "not too bad". (n=236)

Cause of the heel pain (n=494):
24% unknown
20% running
15% walking
Aerobics, weight gain, sudden injury, and change in activity had between 4% and 10%. Basketball, volleyball, and hiking had only a few responses.

Number of doctors seen (n=493):
15% - 0
36% - 1
25% - 2
12% - 3
11% - 4 or more

It hurts when (n=469):
46% 24 hour a day
18% morning
13% standing
13% walking
3% running

16% said it hurt in the back of the heel, arch, front of foot, or other. 18% indicated entire foot or entire bottom of foot. 65% indicated bottom of heel or front bottom of heel.

Respondents who weighed 200 lbs or more (n=167) and specifically ranked "Lost Weight" (n=23) were more likely to indicate that losing weight had helped. They were also less likely to indicate that stretching helped (n=74). Those over 200 lbs did not rank arch support much different from the under-200 lbs group.

Respondents who had it for a year or more (n=236) ranked stretching (n=96) and ice (n=60) higher than the average respondent. They ranked heel pads (n=86) and pills (n=82) lower than the average respondent.

Respondents who explicity indicated the pain was in the bottom or front of the heel area (n=325) as opposed to the entire foot, back of heel, or arch, ranked surgery (n=19) and arch support (n=126) higher.

A difference in any category between those who indicated it was "painful when pressed with a finger" (62%) and the others could not be found.

Results of Survey #2 (802 responses)

In response to the question "Have you stopped seeing a doctor to avoid further injections?" 17% of those that had shots said "yes". 14% said "sort of". This means up to 31% of the shots being applied are causing patients to avoid their doctor. If patients are avoiding the shots only because they are painful and since only 1/2 of the shots being applied are reported as painful, then up to twice as many (62%) of the painfully applied shots are causing patients to avoid the doctor. It has been said that doctors find heel pain boring and frustrating. I hesitate to suggest that some doctors have found a way to avoid the boredom and frustration.

Treatment from doctor: good=220, fair=334, bad=106.

Body-Mass Index (BMI) distribution (n=725):
below 17.5 (anorexic): 0%
17.5 to 21 (skinny): 7%
21 to 26 (normal): 33%
26 to 31 (overweight): 31%
31 to 36 (obese): 18%
above 36: 11%

20% of those who typed orthotics spelled it with a "d".

302 typed answers to the question "product that helped the most"

Combined Quesions from the 2 Surveys

Weight (n=959):
Average = 182 pounds
25% 150 pounds or less
23% 151 to 175 pounds
20% 176 to 199 pounds
33% 200 pounds or more
The above percentages for the second survey results (n=729) were within 1% of the 1st survey (n=230, late question added to 1st survey).

How long they had it (n=1196 responses to this particular question):
37% less than or equal to 6 months
62% less than or equal to 12 months
80% less than or equal to 24 months
89% less than or equal to 36 months
94% less than or equal to 48 months
6% greater than 48 months
The respondents to the surveys appear more likely to be chronic cases.

It was not a specific question, but it appears between 6% and 8% of those who answered the surveys had surgery.


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