That Pain in Your Back Could be Linked to Your Feet

If your lower back has been hurting, and you don’t remember doing anything to injure it, the source of your pain could be your feet! Foot pain is something that many people try to ignore. After all, doesn’t everyone’s feet hurt now and then? But if foot pain is something that has been with you for quite awhile, it could be causing problems in your ankles, knees, hips and even your back.

That old song, “The leg bone’s connected to the thigh bone...The thigh bone’s connected to the hip bone…,” tells the whole story. Our bodies are like a chain, with one link–or bone–connecting at the joint to another link. Think about what would happen if the first link in the chain was out of position. The point at which it meets the next link would eventually overstress that link and adversely affect the entire chain.

That’s what happens when we have foot pain. If the normal way of walking is painful, we instinctively change our walking pattern. Say you have arthritis, and your big toe joint hurts, so you change our gait to avoid bending the joint when you walk. Changing your gait changes the mechanics of your ankle joint, eventually causing ankle pain. This change in your walking pattern can also affect the whole chain of your lower body... from the ankle, to the knee, to the hip, and then to the lower back.

When foot pain or a foot deformity causes you to change the way you walk, it changes the way the bones of all those other joints move with each other. Cartilage in the joints can wear down, ligaments and tendons can be stressed beyond their normal range, and arthritis can set in.

If your feet or ankles aren’t working right, don’t ignore them! Contact a foot and ankle surgeon for an evaluation. Your back (and knees and hips) will thank you!

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  • American College of Foot and Ankle Surgeons
  • Founded in 1942, the American College of Foot and Ankle Surgeons is a specialty medical society of more than 6,000 foot and ankle surgeons. All Fellows of the College are board certified by the American Board of Podiatric Surgery. OUR VISION IS CLEAR: To serve society as the preeminent source of knowledge for foot and ankle surgery. OUR MISSION IS SOLID: To advance the competency of our members and the care of our patients.
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