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Low back pain can be traced to the feet.

Posted Nov 09 2009 10:02pm

Many times low back, hip and knee pain can be traced to the feet. Even if your feet don’t hurt, they may be a major factor contributing to your health problems. I find that if a patient doesn’t respond to treatment, addressing any foot issues can result in dramatic improvement. A foot problem may be the cause of discomfort or pain in your leg/hip, back, arm/shoulder or even your neck. Take the following test and if you answer yes to any of the following questions, you need to have your feet addressed.

Low back pain caused by foot issues are triggered by many things.  Answer the following questions:  Do you stand or walk on hard surfaces for more than 4 hours daily? Don you participate regularly in any physical sport such as basketball, baseball, tennis, golf, bowling etc.? Are you over 40?

Other questions which need to be answered to identify low back pain from feet problems are:  Have you had a prior knee injury, back injury or neck injury? Do your shoes wear unevenly? Do you have joint pain while standing, walking or running? Is one of your legs shorter than the other?

Some other questions to answer are: do you have knock knees or bow legs? Do you have obvious foot problems such as bunions, corns, flat feet, etc.? Do your feet toe out when you’re walking? Your chiropractor can perform a few simple tests to determine if orthotics or arch supports can help your condition. In our office we have a machine that can take a picture of your arches as you stand and actually show how well or poorly your feet support your body. This machine captures an accurate functional image of your feet. If orthotics are needed, exacting measurements are taken by the laboratory and orthotics are made. We would be happy to scan your feet at no charge and show you the work your feet are doing.

There are three arches which are important in supporting the foot and the body; the long arch traveling front to back on the inside of the foot, a parallel arch on the outside of the foot and a shorter side to side arch in the ball of the foot shaped like a kidney bean. These arches act as springs which support the foot during weight bearing. Many factors can change these arches which can then cause foot pain.

Injuries such as sprained ankles can cause swelling which results in adhesions. This can limit the motion in the foot. Fractures which are treated by splinting or casting also prevent motion and cause adhesions to form. Foot abnormalities such as flat feet or feet that roll in or roll out change the way the arches work and ultimately the way the foot supports the body.

As the feet fail to function properly, the ankles are affected. The muscles and ligaments which support them will become stretched or shortened and unbalanced. This can lead to additional strains and sprains. As the ankles fail the knees are affected leading to narrowing joint spaces and arthritis. As the knees are damaged, walking changes can occur leading to hip problems and low back pain. All of this can relate back to the feet.

Treatment of foot pain involves addressing the lack of mobility as well as the structural abnormalities. Chiropractic adjustments work well to break up adhesions causing lack of motion. Custom orthotics can help to support the foot. Balance work especially on a wobble board will strengthen the ankle and foot. It will also stimulate nerves which help decrease back pain. A podiatrist may recommend the use of a special stocking which keeps the foot in a particular position when you are sleeping. Simple exercises such as picking up pencils with your toes or crinkling a newspaper with your toes help strengthen the arches as well as the muscles in the feet.

Cortisone injections will help to decrease foot pain very rapidly. However, if the underlying cause of the foot problem is not address, the pain will return. Cortisone injections can only be used 3 times in the same area. It can cause localized decreased bone density (osteoporosis) which could lead to the muscles or ligaments tearing away from their attachments.

It is important to remember that the body is more than the sum of its parts. Problems with one area will lead to problems with other areas. Addressing the root cause of your pain or symptoms will help to speed your recovery and perhaps avoid the use of medications and their side affects.

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