The persistent pain in your lower back may be the result of a problem with your feet. The arch in your foot has a shock absorber effect, cushioning each step. It also helps to keep your ankles, knees, and hips aligned. If you have flat feet, also called fallen arches, your lower body will be out of alignment, putting stress on your lower back. Here is the subtle connection between your feet and back and how a foot doctor can help your back pain to go away.
Your Feet and Stress on Your Lower Body
The arch in your feet causes them to roll outward slightly. This is the right anatomical position to keep the ankles lined up with the lower leg bones, the leg bones aligned with the knees, and knees aligned with the hips. This alignment also removes stress from the muscles and tendons in all of those joints.
When the arch fails, the feet turn inward and rest on the floor. This is enough change in the alignment to put stress on all of the those structures from the ankles up to the hips. The muscles and tendons become stretched, causing pain in your Achilles' tendon, knee ligaments, and muscles around the hip joint. The stress of each step, which is normally cushioned by the arch, is transmitted up through the lower body to your back. Any change in the arch can result in painful consequences from your ankles to your back.
The Causes of Fallen Arches
Your arches can fail whenever the stress on your feet is greater than the ability of the muscles in the feet to hold the arch in place. Some of the causes of this include:
- family history (genetics) of weak foot muscles
- an injury to the muscles and tendons in the feet
- overstretching the muscles during exercise or other physical activity
- excess weight gain that puts stress on the foot muscles
Restoring Your Arch and Lower Body Alignment
The first step is a visit to a podiatrist for an evaluation of the extent and causes of your fallen arches. They will recommend one or more non-invasive techniques to restore your arch. If these fail to give you adequate relief, surgical options may be used to create an arch.
Some of the non-invasive treatments include:
- custom orthotics worn in the shoes to hold your feet in better alignment
- physical therapy to strengthen the foot and ankle muscles
- foot braces to hold the ankle in better alignment with your lower legs
Surgical treatment options include:
- fusing bones together in the foot to construct an artificial arch
- moving tendons to different places on the bones to gain leverage for holding the arch in place
If you do have surgery, you'll use some type of orthotics or brace to reduce the stress on the foot while it is healing.