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Can Back Pain Caused By Feet Issues?

Understanding Back Pain And How It Is Related To Podiatry

Do you suffer from an aching back? Pain shooting from your back into the legs? Do you find it hard getting up when you have sat down for too long? Also having to massage your lower back after walking or standing a lot?

These are a few common issues people mention to me when I was treating their feet. It has been estimated that the majority of the Australians will experience back pain at some point in their lives. It is not uncommon to learn that people who suffered from back pain also have some sort of lower limb abnormalities or discomfort. Foot function actually plays a role in some cases of back pain. Click here to identify your foot type and learn how your foot can affect you.

How is back pain related to podiatry?

It may seem strange to think of someone going to a podiatry practice when they actually have a problem with their back. After all, a comment such as “Aren’t you just a podiatrist? You only look at the feet right?” is not uncommon.

However, an assumption that podiatrists only look at the feet and ignore everything else above the ankle should be addressed. Podiatrists have the skills and knowledge to assess how foot and leg positions can cause issues with the hips and lower back.

Our body is rather a complex puzzle - it is a series of connective tissues, bones, nerves, and system that all work in harmony with each other. Abnormal biomechanics of the feet can lead to pain in other parts of the body, including ankles, knees, hips, lower back, shoulder and even neck! Back pain can also be related to limb length discrepancy (LLD) where one leg is longer than the other.

Most lower back pain is secondary to some degree of body compensation to avoid pain. For instance, if we experience pain in heel, arch or ankle, it is very likely for us to change our gait accordingly to offload our discomfort, which in turns can lead to abnormal and excessive forces being placed elsewhere on our body. Such compensated pain is also commonly known as a “referred pain”.

What can a podiatrist do for my back pain?

A good podiatrist will assess your whole body and not just your lower limbs. At Passion Podiatry, we perform assessments on key aspects such as your foot type, footwear, body’s symmetry, muscle strengths that review the relationship between the feet, legs, and back.

We also believe in multidisciplinary approach - we have a great working relationship with some of the local physiotherapists and the like to ensure the best care for your whole body.

Some of the common management for your lower back pain include:

  • Orthotic therapy - to address any lower limb abnormal motion to prevent excessive stress and strain on the body.

  • Footwear changes or modification - to ensure no further aggravation of the symptoms or to address limb length discrepancy.

  • Stretching / Strengthening exercises - to address any muscle tightness or weakness.

  • Referral to other allied health professionals such as a physiotherapist.

There is a multitude of potential reasons for back pain, but for those with the chronic back pain of unknown cause, it may be worthwhile to consult a podiatrist to have your lower limb biomechanics assessed.

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