Foot Function and Back Pain

At Pod Podiatry Clinic, we can relieve your back pain by treating your foot problems.

Podiatrists have long recognised the potential link between foot function and back pain.  Such a link makes sense, as the feet form the base of the bodies overall posture.  We know that excessive pronation (flat feet) causes the hip joints to rotate internally and the pelvis to tilt forward and down.  This then leads to strain on the soft tissues supporting the spinal column such as the muscles, ligaments and intervertebral discs.

A recent longitudinal study completed in the UK confirms a strong association between excessively pronating feet and lower back pain in the female population assessed.  The Framingham Foot Study looked at around 3300 people over a 20 year period, and found that women with flat feet were 50% more likely to suffer back pain that those with normal foot function.  This makes sense to podiatrists who have noted how corrective foot orthoses are very often reported to have relieved back pain in their patients.

Without doubt, there are a multitude of potential reasons for back pain, but for those with chronic back pain of unknown cause it may be worthwhile to consult a Podiatrist to have your lower limb biomechanics assessed.  At Pod, we have vast experience in treating abnormal foot function and associated lower back pain.

There are some other leg and foot conditions that may influence back pain.  Leg length difference (LLD) causes the pelvis to tilt down on the short leg side.  LLD may also contribute to an abnormal lateral curvature of the spine, scoliosis.  In most cases, all that may be needed to correct LLD is a heel raise fitted to an orthotic device or attached to the inside of the shoe itself.  In more severe cases of unequal leg length, shoe modification or surgery may be required.

Although less common than pronated feet, very high arched rigid feet (pes cavus) may also be related to back pain. This type of foot has poor shock absorption and reduced attenuation of impact at the heel strike phase of gait. Custom foot orthoses along with expert footwear advice are effective in reducing the high impacts in this foot type.

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