Clinical Scenario: Plantar heel pain is a common condition frequently associated with persistent symptoms and functional limitations affecting both the athletic and nonathletic populations. Common interventions target impairments at the foot and ankle and local drivers of symptoms. If symptoms are predominantly perpetuated by alterations in central pain processing, addressing peripheral impairments alone may not be sufficient. Clinical Question: Do individuals with chronic plantar heel pain demonstrate signs potentially associated with altered central pain processing? Summary of Key Findings: After searching 6 electronic databases (PubMed, CINAHL, Scopus, SportDiscus, Cochrane, and PEDro) and filtering titles based on predetermined inclusion and exclusion criteria, 4 case-control studies were included. All studies scored highly on the Newcastle-Ottawa Scale for quality assessment. Using pressure pain thresholds, each study found decreased pressure pain hypersensitivity locally and at a remote site compared to control groups, suggesting the presence, to some extent, of altered nociceptive pain processing. Clinical Bottom Line: In the studies reviewed, reported results suggest a possible presence of centrally mediated symptoms in persons with plantar heel pain. However, despite findings from these studies, limitations in appropriate matching based on body mass index and measures used suggest additional investigation is warranted. Strength of Recommendation: According to the Oxford Centre for Evidence-Based Medicine, there is evidence level C to suggest chronic plantar heel pain is associated with alterations in central pain processing.
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