Encounters for foot and ankle pain in UK primary care: a population-based cohort study of CPRD data.
Ferguson R., Culliford D., Prieto-Alhambra D., Pinedo-Villanueva R., Delmestri A., Arden N., Bowen C.
BACKGROUND: Older patients who have foot pain report variation in access to services to manage their foot health. To plan services it is essential to understand the scale and burden of foot pain that exists for GPs. AIM: To provide UK-wide population-level data of the frequency of foot and/or ankle pain encounters recorded in general practice. DESIGN AND SETTING: Population-based cohort design study using data drawn from the UK Clinical Practice Research Datalink (CPRD) from January 2010 to December 2013. METHOD: All CPRD data were collected prospectively by participating GPs. The primary outcome was prevalence of GP encounters for foot and/or ankle pain, stratified by age, sex, and different subgroups of causes. RESULTS: A foot and/or ankle pain encounter was recorded for 346 067 patients, and there was a total of 567 095 recorded encounters (mean per person 1.6, standard deviation [SD] 1.3). The prevalence of recorded encounters of foot and/or ankle pain was 2980 per 100 000 (3%). The number of patients with a recorded encounter of foot and/or ankle pain was 1820 per 100 000 (1.8%). Foot and/or ankle pain encounters were reported across all age groups (54.4% females), with those aged 71-80 years placing the greatest burden on GPs. The most common specified referrals were to orthopaedics (n = 36 881) and physiotherapy (n = 33 987), followed by podiatry (n = 25 980). CONCLUSION: The burden of foot and/or ankle pain encounters recorded by GPs is not insubstantial, and spans all ages, with a high proportion of referrals to orthopaedics. The authors recommend further exploration of 'first-contact practitioners' for foot and/or ankle pain in general practice to alleviate the burden on GPs.