Lower back pain can be hard to determine the cause of. There are so many options for the reason you are feeling pain in your lower back, it could be muscle-related, bone and joint-related, or even organ-related. Sometimes a foot dysfunction or imbalance can cause lower back pain. Most professionals agree that foot or ankle problems can create the most lower back pain. Custom inserts, known as orthotics, can correct some of these issues by properly aligning the foot and leg. The use of shoe insoles can help lower back pain but read further for more information.
How does lower back pain work?
Mechanical problems in the feet can negatively affect the way a patient walks or stands, which over time places strain on the lower back, causing pain.
Many sources of back pain are mechanical problems with the legs and feet. Stress might be placed on a weak or injured muscle group in the legs or feet, causing issues in the lower back.
Symptoms of lower back pain
There are many potential causes of lower back pain, and depending on our work, the pain may come and go for many of us. Here are some examples of “chronic” back pain that might need your attention.
Lower back pain can stem from:
- Sitting for long periods of time
- Lifting heavy objects or bending over repeatedly
- Using your legs or hips in a new or unusual way
- Waking up in the morning without stretching
- Weak abdominal muscles
Diagnosis may also include:
A Herniated Disc
A herniated disc is also known as a slipped or ruptured disc. This painful condition can happen when the cartilage cushion on vertebrae are being pushed into spinal nerves.
General Kidney issues
Kidney stones and kidney infections are severe and can give you pain in your lower abs, the sides of the abs, the hips, or the ribs. The kidneys are located near the lower back, so it can be difficult to tell if the pain is coming from organs or from, muscles or both.
The sciatic nerve is a major nerve between the lower spine and the rest of the legs. Pressure on this nerve from swelling can give the person a burning or numb feeling in the back, leg, or foot.
A common inflammation of the joints, can also affect the lower back. This results in general stiffness, weakness and pain in the affected area.
What are common foot issues that lead to back pain?
Examples of common foot problems that can lead to an irregular posture and/or walking pattern include:
- Plantar fasciitis- typically chronic heel pain and/or arch pain that can travel to the lower back
- Nerve damage or numb parts of the foot, causing a shift in weight
- Walking with your ankle too far in is pronation
- Walking with your ankle too far out is supination, similar to when someone trips and “rolls their ankle”
Treatments for lower back pain
The best thing you can do for lower back pain is to rest, ice the affected area, use compression if possible, and try to elevate the feet to drain blood into the back. Some people find pain relief from topical cream or gel products like arnica, others might prefer a relaxing warm bath to soothe lower back aches.
Other treatments include muscle relaxers, NSAIDs, cortisone/steroid injections, or narcotics for the worst pain levels. Ask a pharmacist or doctor before taking medication.
There are also surgical remedies, such as spinal fusion, where vertebrae are fused together to reduce wear and tear on the spine. There are also options for killing the nerves in the back to reduce pain. We recommend trying a few non-surgical options before opting for surgery.
There are also physiotherapy exercises one can do;
1. The knee-to-chest stretch
- lay on your back with both legs flat on the ground
- bending the right leg, hold the knee while keeping the left leg extended
- hold for 1 minute, and repeat on the other side.
2. A yoga-style “child’s pose”
- Knees on the ground, sink hips back to your heels
- Extend arms in front of you, with palms face up
- Hold for 1 minute or longer if possible
Lastly, a common treatment for lower back pain is exploring different orthotic inserts.
How do orthotics help?
The goal of easing lower back pain is to give the person a healthy posture and gait or walking pattern. The more aligned the person is, the better chances they have of healing, the lower back muscles.
A shoe insole or orthotic can help correct a variety of alignment issues. Proper alignment may also reduce pain in other joints, such as the hips, knees, and ankles.
It’s possible that people can have one or more of these conditions without triggering back pain. Either way, back pain can usually be treated by looking at the root cause in the legs or feet.
Foot orthotics are usually the preferred option to treat lower back pain because of their lower cost and higher safety than surgical solutions. Orthotics can help train the feet to stay aligned, fixing the issue from returning. This is a great drug-free option.
Do I need Prefabricated or Custom Orthotics?
There have been several studies done on orthotics for the feet. A 1998 study found that both prefabricated and custom inserts were helpful with fixing walking patterns initially, but the effects lasted longer in the customized orthotics. It’s likely that store-bought orthotics just don’t hold up to the wear and tear in the long term as custom orthotics do.
How Custom Orthotics Can Help
Custom orthotics are there to support your feet, and not most feet. Issues with lower back pain can start at your feet and travel upwards. Orthotics can help correct any imbalances in your stride contributing to your back pain.
Your back pain could be corrected by balancing your stride and reducing stress on various joints in the legs. Corrections will reduce knee pain in your gait. Hips won’t have to work as hard to stabilize the legs while you walk.
You may experience reduced inward curving of the lumbar spine, which is associated with back discomfort.
You may get a pair of generic orthotics at your local drugstore, but these one-size-fits-all solutions are only sometimes beneficial for your specific foot issue. Prefabricated orthotics might throw your posture out even more. Posture might be worth investing in, and specialists will give you the best results.
Talk to a doctor if you experience persistent lower back pain, and find someone that does custom orthotics near you.