BACKGROUND: Plantar heel pain (PHP) is a common cause of foot complaints in general practice. However, information on the occurrence and practical management is scarce. AIM: The aim of this study was to determine the incidence and prevalence of PHP in Dutch primary care and to gain insight into the types of treatments provided to patients with PHP in primary care. DESIGN AND SETTING: A cohort study was conducted using a healthcare database containing the electronic general practice medical records of approximately 1.9 million patients throughout the Netherlands. METHOD: A search algorithm was defined and used to identify cases of PHP from January 2013 to December 2016. Descriptive statistics were used to obtain the incidence and prevalence. Data on the management of PHP were manually validated in a random sample of 1000 patients. RESULTS: The overall incidence of PHP was 3.83 cases (95% confidence interval [CI] = 3.77 to 3.89) per 1000 patient-years, the incidence in females was 4.64 (95% CI = 4.55 to 4.72), and 2.98 (95% CI = 2.91 to 3.05) in males. The overall prevalence of PHP was 0.4374% (95% CI = 0.4369 to 0.4378%). Incidence of PHP peaked in September and October of each calendar year. The most commonly applied strategies were a wait-and-see policy (18.0%, n = 168), use of non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) (19.9%, n = 186), referral to a paramedical podiatric specialist (19.7%, n = 184), and advice to wear insoles (16.4%, n = 153). Treatment strategies varied greatly among GPs. CONCLUSION: There was large variation in treatment strategies of GPs for patients with PHP. GPs should be aware of conflicting evidence for interventions, such as insoles, and focus more on exercises for which there is evidence for effectiveness.

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British Journal of General Practice
Department of Medical Informatics

Rasenberg, N., Bierma-Zeinstra, S., Bindels, P., van der Lei, J., & van Middelkoop, M. (2019). Incidence, prevalence, and management of plantar heel pain: a retrospective cohort study in Dutch primary care. British Journal of General Practice, 69(688), e801–e808. doi:10.3399/bjgp19X706061