Seasonal variation for plantar fasciitis: evidence from Google trends search query data

Review written by Ian Griffiths info

Key Points

  1. Internet search volume data correlate significantly with real world occurrence of disease, and searches for plantar fasciitis is steadily increasing in recent years.
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BACKGROUND & OBJECTIVE

As mentioned in previous reviews, plantar heel pain (frequently referred to as plantar fasciitis (PF) by many) is accepted as being the most common overuse issue affecting the foot (1). It accounts for around 15% of all foot complaints that require professional treatment (2), and its economic burden in the United States alone has previously been estimated at between 200-300 million dollars (3).

Previous work has suggested that the incidence of the pathology increases in the summer and decreases in the winter (4). There is value in understanding seasonality of disease as it may help identify unknown or unmeasured risk factors and aid in ensuring there is appropriate public health education and treatment provision availability. Significant correlations between internet search volume data for diseases and their actual occurrence has been reported (5,6) and there are obvious time and cost benefits of using such approaches over traditional survey methods (7).

Plantar heel pain is accepted as being the most common overuse issue affecting the foot.
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The data generated by this study could help in providing focus for continuing professional development or inter-departmental meetings at specific points of the year.

METHODS

  • Google Trends calculates the relative proportion of searches for any given keyword search performed on Google. This relative search volume is made feely available to the public and can be filtered by time and region.
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