What can our Newcastle Podiatrist Blake tell us about the relationship between feet and back pain?
We commonly get referred patients who have had ongoing back and hip issues for several years. We are generally the third or fourth contact practitioner when patients and their treating health professional are looking for another opinion or another possible contributor to the development of their pain.
There is low quality and a very small amount of evidence supporting the notion that there is a relationship between foot posture and back pain. Research should not be taken as gospel, especially research on foot posture and back pain. The research, which I will put below does show a relationship or an improvement in pain with the use of foot orthoses in people with back pain that had a pronated foot posture (this means a flatter foot). We need to understand that all pain is multifactorial, knowing this can result in somewhat of a stretch to say that foot posture or foot movement is the sole cause of somebody with back pain. It may be a contributor; however, we can be quite confident to say it is most likely a small factor. In saying this, we have had great results where we have prescribed footwear and foot orthoses in people with back pain who have tried numerous other therapies and we’ve seen quite significant improvement. We are very lucky to be the only Podiatrists in Newcastle to work alongside several sports doctors in a specialty Sports Medicine Clinic. This gives us a unique insight and treatment plan. For example, if we suspect that your back or hip pain may benefit from further diagnostics or other treatments which a lot of other health professionals can't do, it is very easy for us to discuss with one of the doctors or to refer you to see them. They get many great results and have a unique set of skills.
When we think of all the possible contributors or causes of back pain, it can be quite easy to blame the feet or the posture of the lower limb if it does look asymmetrical or different. I would be sceptical to say that the sole cause of an individual’s pain in their back is related to their feet. It is a lot more likely and a more evidence-based answer to think of other things such as tissue capacity, stress, mobility, sleep and many more. If you do believe that your feet or lower limb posture is related to your back pain, we will perform a full biomechanical assessment which involves testing from the foot all the way up to the lower back. We will go into the gym and test your tissue capacity and tolerance. What separates us from other Podiatrists in Newcastle is the fact that we have a full multipurpose gym where we can test the resilience, strength and endurance of the tissue that may be affected and we can also prescribe a high quality evidence based rehab programme. Within our specialty of sports medicine, we are the only Newcastle based podiatrists who have access within their clinic to a full gym with a running track and weights.
Newcastle Podiatrist - Blake