Can Flat Feet Cause Back Problems?

Can Flat Feet Cause Back Problems?

Back pain is a common condition that affects people all over the world. It can be caused by an activity event, such as a strain or sprain while lifting weights, or an inherent condition such as kyphosis. A less obvious cause could be a person’s gait — or in most cases the structure of their feet.

Can Flat Feet Cause Back Problems? Of course, other factors can exacerbate symptoms. Fortunately, treatment options for this type of back pain are relatively simple, as long as the cause is addressed before the condition worsens.

Common Causes of Back Pain

While it’s not always possible to determine the underlying cause of back pain, there are often indications that back pain is related to a medical condition or lifestyle factor. For example, back pain is often caused by:

  • Sciatica – irritation of the nerves from the back to the legs.
  • Sliding disc – A cartilaginous disc presses against a spinal nerve.
  • Stress – Mental health conditions such as stress have been linked to back pain due to chronic muscle tension.
  • Aging – General wear and tear of the bones and joints of the spine.
  • Bad Posture – Sitting or standing in the wrong position for too long.
  • Lack of exercise – An active lifestyle can prevent back pain while sitting or lying down for long periods of time can lead to stiffness in the back muscles.

Another major cause of back pain is misalignment, usually in the hips, knees, shoulders, or feet. If you have flat feet or a sagging arch, this can interfere with the alignment of the rest of your body and cause joint pain.

What Causes Flat Feet?

Flat feet refer to the underdevelopment of the arch of the foot. When walking, the instep or mid-foot usually doesn’t touch the ground, but if your feet are flat, your entire foot stays on the floor when you stand or walk.

Generally speaking, flat fleets are nothing to worry about, and usually don’t. If you don’t have an arch in your foot, you probably won’t need any treatment and won’t notice the condition on a daily basis. However, sometimes flat feet can cause the foot to overturn in varus, or be associated with knee, hip, ankle, or lower back pain.

Flat feet are usually inherited, so running in the family is possible. Rarely, flat feet can be caused by long-term disorders of the muscles, such as cerebral palsy or spina bifida. It could also be that the bones of the feet did not develop properly in the womb. Because the feet act as shock absorbers for the body, even small abnormalities like flat feet can cause problems in the upper layers of the body. If the hips are even slightly misaligned due to the position of the feet, this can lead to lower back pain over time.

How Flat Feet and Back Pain Are Related

Flat feet are characterized by your feet having a low arch, which allows you to walk with the entire bottom of your foot touching the ground. Compared with people with normal or high arches, people with flat feet are 50% more likely to experience back pain, and other factors such as lifestyle and pre-existing conditions can exacerbate this symptom.

Flat feet are normal in infants and young children but usually correct themselves around age 2 to 3. However, genetics and stunting in childhood can allow the disease to persist into adulthood, at which point it develops into lichen planus, or what we call flat feet.

While injuries or other health conditions can cause flat feet, it’s mostly hereditary. As an adult, you can have a flat foot if you:

  • Calf and leg tendon tears
  • Posterior tibial tendon inflammation or injury
  • fracture
  • rheumatoid arthritis
  • nerve damage

Why Do Flat Feet Cause Back Problems?

Why Do Flat Feet Cause Back Problems?

Our bodies are an interconnected mix of muscles, tendons, and tissues. When one part of our body moves, other parts respond by bending or contracting to achieve the action. Walking is one of the best examples: when we walk, we put our full weight on our feet. The legs cushion the impact, and the spine acts as the primary support, keeping us upright.

This interconnected system is the main reason why flat feet can cause back pain. Flat feet mean your ankles are out of position, which causes your feet and legs to connect differently. This affects the joints in your knees and hips, which in turn affects the way you walk. This change in a position now puts most of the weight on your lower back, which isn’t designed to handle the pressure.

This extra pressure also changes your posture, which means you may twist your entire lower body as you walk. This puts a lot of stress on your joints, which can lead to conditions like arthritis.

All this unsupported weight can compress your spinal nerves, which can lead to back pain and more serious complications. One thing to note here, however, is that flat feet are not automatically associated with back pain. Some people have flat feet and walk just fine.

How To Treat Back Pain Caused By Flat Feet?

1. Correction

Orthotics are custom-made shoes or heel inserts used to treat foot, knee, or back problems. They can be used on their own or as part of a broader treatment regimen recommended by a doctor. They’re an affordable, non-invasive alternative to the foot surgery that’s easy to incorporate into your lifestyle.

One thing to keep in mind is that store-bought insoles are not orthotics. Orthodontics will always be tailored to the patient for the best results. Some shoes on the market may be advertised as orthotic, but there is no guarantee that they will work for you without a doctor’s approval.

2. Lose Weight

Obesity can exacerbate the effects of back pain associated with flat feet, so your doctor may recommend that you lose weight by eating more and exercising. This method may take longer to produce results than orthopedics, but it is also one of the most effective solutions in the long run if you are overweight beyond normal limits.

Losing weight can reduce the amount of fat your feet need to support, thereby reducing pressure on your spine. It also helps you regain your natural posture while walking. Combined with orthopedics and physical therapy, weight loss can be an effective way to combat the effects of flat feet.

3. Physical Therapy

Doctors often recommend flat foot exercises for people who experience severe or chronic back pain. They designed these exercises to correct a fallen arch, improve your standing or walking posture, and reduce pain. Your doctor may ask you to visit a clinic for the first few sessions and prescribe some exercises you can do at home.

Like orthotics, it’s also important not to start exercising on your own without consulting your doctor. Trying physical therapy alone can make your condition worse or develop into another because of an inappropriate treatment regimen

Final Words

If you already have chronic back pain and think flat feet may be the cause, you should see a back specialist, such as a chiropractor or podiatrist. If the back becomes stiff in certain areas over time, manual therapy techniques and chiropractic can provide immediate relief while continuing to treat flat feet. At Canary Wharf Chiropractic we do a full body assessment so we can see how you’re qualifying and identify problem areas – we’ll always recommend you find another specialist to address the root cause of your back pain if needed.

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