If you frequently have back pain, take a look at your feet. If you have flat feet, also known as fallen arches, the alignment of your lower body is in a position that puts stress on your lower back. A podiatrist can evaluate the impact of your foot position on your back and make some recommendations to relieve the pain. Here is why your feet are making your back hurt and what the foot doctor can do to help.
Your Feet and Lower Body Alignment
The arch in your foot causes the foot to turn in slightly and rotate out as well as rest off of the floor. This position serves several purposes:
- the arch acts as a shock absorber each time you step down
- the rotation of the foot keeps the ankle, knee and hips proper aligned
This alignment takes stress off of your lower back. When the arch fails, the foot turns out and rotates in. This places subtle changes on the ankle, knee and hip joints, and puts stress on the lower back. The muscles in the lower back become tense and painful. Since the arch no longer has the shock absorber effect, the force of stepping on your foot is transferred up to your back, which enhances that pain.
Why Arches Fail
There are several reasons for fallen arches, such as:
- family history and the tendency toward flat feet
- an injury to the tendons and muscles in the ankles and feet
- excess weight gain, which puts additional stress on the feet
- overworking the foot muscles during physical activity or exercise
- diseases of the bone, such as osteoporosis and arthritis
Treatment of Fallen Arches
Some of the treatment options rebuild the arch. Others are supportive to help realign your lower body and reduce the back pain. Your foot doctor will first recommend some non-invasive approaches. If they fail to give you enough relief, they may suggest surgical reconstruction of the arch.
Some of the non-invasive approaches include:
- Custom orthotics worn in the shoes to create an artificial arch for your foot.
- Physical therapy to strengthen the muscles supporting the arch.
- Ankle braces to hold the foot in place and realign the legs and hips.
The surgical options include:
- Moving the tendons that hold the arch in place to other locations, giving them more leverage with which to keep the arch stable.
- Fusion of bones in the foot together to create an artificial arch.
- Reshaping the foot bones that were damaged by a disease back into an arch