The relationship of the heel pad compressibility and plantar pressure distribution

Loss of heel pad elasticity has been suggested as one of the possible explanations of heel pain. This study aimed to determine the effect of heel pad thickness and its compressibility to heel pressure distribution, in 47 (94 feet) normal subjects and 59 (94 feet) patients with heel pain, using radiological measurements and EMED-SF (Novel, Munich) plantar pressure distribution measurement system. Both heels of the patients and control group were radiographed with and without weight bearing. The ratio of the heel pad thickness in loading to unloading position was defined as “the heel pad compressibility index.” The plantar peak pressure of the heel was measured at heel strike phase of the gait cycle. The compressibility index for control and patient groups were found to be 0.60 and 0.69, respectively. The peak pressure under the heel pad was recorded to be 28.4 N/cm2 for patients and 31.7 N/cm2 for control group. No significant difference was found for heel pad compressibility index and heel pad pressures between patient and control groups (p > 0.05). This study revealed that there is no relationship between heel pad compressibility and pressure distribution of the heel pad both in control and patient group. We feel the flexibility of the heel pad does not have any influence on heel pain syndromes.

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