If you’re experiencing mysterious foot pain that you haven’t been able to treat effectively yet, you’ll surely be eager to get to the bottom of what’s going on.
Which calls into question; are foot and back pain related somehow? The answer could certainly be yes. It all depends on your symptoms, the type of pain you're experiencing, and precisely where your pain is presenting.
Foot pain can be caused by a number of problems in the feet themselves, such as a sprain, a fractured bone, or a corn on your toe… But if you can’t identify an event that prompted the start of your pain, or a condition causing a foot deformity or symptoms you and your doctor can easily recognize:
Your foot pain could be pointing to a deeper issue... One that may exist in your spine.
If you’re experiencing unpleasant sensations in your feet, or if you’ve noticed your foot and ankle are not functioning correctly, these could well be related to an issue elsewhere in your body, such as the nerves in your spine- so it’s of the utmost importance to address them without delay.
Depending on your diagnosis, the treatment path you follow may vary greatly. A problem originating in your spine such as a pinched sciatic nerve will require different treatment to something like a bone spur in your foot, for example.
An accurate diagnosis of what the issue is will help you find the right treatment plan for relief.
Here, we explore some of the correlations between foot and back pain that can be addressed to improve your quality of life...
Is Your Foot Pain the Result of a Problem in Your Spine?
An intricate network of nerves travel down your spine, into your legs, through your ankle; and then terminate in your feet. Due to their delicate and complex nature, it’s not uncommon for nerve roots to become irritated or compressed where they exit the lumbar spine, causing radiating pain and discomfort in your feet and legs. This can also be the result of a compressed nerve root in your hip or knee causing sciatic or peroneal neuropathy; so for effective relief, it’s critical that the first step is identifying where the problem truly originates.
Spinal Issues That Can Cause Foot Pain:
An issue in your spinal nerve root may well be the cause of your foot and ankle pain, as all the nerves in your feet are governed by the spine and their nerve roots exit through the lower back. When these lower back nerves become compressed, sensory signals cannot travel through the network effectively, causing foot and leg pain, as well as loss of sensation.
Forming an accurate diagnosis will allow you to get to the root of the problem, so rule out the following potential back problems first to see if they’re what’s causing your discomfort...
Is your foot pain caused by:
- Sciatica- Nerve roots may become compressed and irritated, causing lower back pain that also radiates down into your legs and feet.
- A Slipped Spinal Disc- Also called spondylolisthesis, this occurs when one of your vertebrae “slips” down onto the one below it. This can be the result of trauma, disease or a degenerative issue.
- A Herniated Disc- A rupture in the discs between your vertebrae can cause the acidic cushioning material to leak into the spinal column, and place pressure on nerves that connect to your feet. This is usually the result of trauma from a strain or injury.
- Narrowing of the Spine- The natural aging process can cause arthritis in the lower back, bone spurs, and narrowing of the openings in the spinal cord that our nerves travel through. Brought about by the body responding to degenerating tissue that naturally degrades as we get older, the spine fortifies its strength by forming bone supports to hold the vertebrae in place. This in turn can pinch or compress the spinal nerves as they can’t move freely, causing pain to radiate to the area that nerve travels to.
- Foot Drop- Compression of the spine’s L5 nerve root can prevent your ankle from functioning correctly; causing muscle weakness, frequent tripping over and an inability to lift the front part of your foot. This condition is descriptively named foot drop, and is the side effect of spinal injury or nerve damage in the legs.
When to See Your Doctor
Schedule an appointment with your doctor for medical advice if you suspect any of the above conditions may be affecting your spine. With a thorough evaluation, you’ll be able to work together to identify the source of the pain in your feet and back, and structure an effective treatment plan.
Having healthy feet really takes us places, and we wouldn’t want to miss out on any opportunities for wellness, happiness and adventure. Because when we take care of our bodies; they take care of us... So let’s keep this incredible machine that is our body running smoothly, so we can squeeze every drop of wonder and experience out that this life affords us!
Slabway Wellness Contributor