Foot pain can stop you in your tracks. But did you know foot pain can be linked to back pain?
It might seem strange with the distance between the two, but it’s all connected. Here are some conditions that link foot pain and back pain.
The sciatic nerve begins at the base of your spine and extends through your lower extremities. It’s an important nerve, as it controls motor function in the lower body. When the sciatic nerve is irritated or compressed, the pain can radiate along the nerve path from the lower back to your foot.
- Muscle spasms
Treatment options include modifying activity, physical therapy, nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory medications, or epidural injections.
Degenerative spondylolisthesis is a lower back condition where a vertebral body slips or moves out of place. The condition often correlates with age and weakened joints or ligaments along the spinal column. The slip can pinch a nerve, which radiates the pain downward, leading to foot pain.
Degenerative Spondylolisthesis Symptoms
- Lower back or leg pain
- Leg weakness
- Tight hamstrings
Physical therapy and medication are favored treatments. More severe cases might require spinal fusion or spinal instrumentation.
Plantar fasciitis is when the connective tissue (the plantar fascia), which stretches from heel to toe, is inflamed. The most common causes are high-arched or flat feet, unsupportive footwear, obesity, strenuous or repeated activity on hard surfaces, or frequent and extended periods of standing.
Plantar Fasciitis Symptoms
- Heel or arch pain
- Difficulty standing after prolonged sitting
Plantar fasciitis can also cause back pain. You might compensate for foot pain by altering posture to lessen the weight on your foot. The uneven distribution of weight changes your posture, leading to back pain.
Treatment often focuses on physical therapy, stretching, supportive footwear, orthotics, night splints, and anti-inflammatory medications. Surgery is an option, depending on risk factors and potential benefits.
Hyper-pronation and Hyper-supination
The way you walk can alter your posture. Your gait may be the cause of back pain.
Pronation describes an inward motion of the foot as you walk. Over-pronation or hyper-pronation can cause collapsed arches or flat feet. The pronounced movement turns the leg inward, affecting your knees, hips, and lower back.
Supination describes when feet roll inward while moving. Feet with high arches tend towards hyper-supination, where the gait stresses the outer ankle and leg muscles.
With orthotics or arch support, you can realign your legs and back. Shoes with cushioning or supportive inserts can prevent further harm and help treat these conditions.
High heels (over two inches) and flat shoes impair posture and may negatively impact your walking pattern. If you can, avoid oversized or too tight footwear, which might aggravate foot pain. The inside of your shoe can sometimes wear down before the outside. Replace your shoes or add inserts to compensate.
Treating your foot pain is one of the best things you can do for your body. Try footwear inserts for support, compression socks for swelling, and practice better stretching to protect your ligaments. Take care of your feet, and you'll start feeling better.