Why do Flat Feet Cause Back Pain?

Back pain is an extremely common condition and in many cases, the cause is unknown. From posture and alignment to activities we carry out on a daily basis, there are many reasons why back pain is a growing problem affecting 1 in 10 people.

Ongoing lower back pain can be debilitating, causing emotional distress and forcing sufferers to take time off work. Despite this, it is still an often overlooked condition and GPs struggle to find the root of the problem or prescribe the best treatment. Medication such as painkillers simply masks the problem rather than treating the underlying cause.

Common Causes of Back Pain

While it’s not always possible to identify the root cause of back pain, there are often signs which pinpoint to a certain medical condition or lifestyle factor. For example back pain is commonly caused by:

  • Sciatica – the irritation of a nerve that runs from the back down the leg.
  • A slipped disc – when a disc of cartilage presses on a nerve in the spine.
  • Stress – mental health conditions such as stress have been linked to back pain because of the prolonged tension in the muscles.
  • Ageing – general wear and tear of the bones and joints in the spine.
  • Poor posture – sitting or standing for too long in the wrong positions.
  • Lack of movement – an active lifestyle can prevent back pain, whereas sitting or lying down for long period of time can cause the back muscles to stiffen.

As chiropractors, we think it’s important to find the cause of back pain before deciding on the best course of back pain treatment. There are many different types of back pain and certain therapies will work better on some back pain than others.

Another leading cause of back pain is misalignment, usually in the hips, knees, shoulders or feet. If you are flat footed or have fallen arches, this can affect alignment in the rest of your body and result in pain in the joints.

What Causes Flat Feet?

Flat feet are a condition which means the arch of the foot is underdeveloped. The instep or the middle of the foot does not usually touch the ground when walking, but if you have flat feet the entire foot remains on the floor when you stand or walk.

In general flat fleet are not a cause for concern and usually nothing to worry about. If you don’t develop an arch in your foot, you probably won’t need any treatment and won’t notice the condition on a day to day basis. However, occasionally flat feet can cause problems with the feet rolling in too much, or can be associated with pain in the knees, hips, ankles or lower back.

Flat feet are generally inherited – so it could run in the family. Rarely, flat feet can be caused by a muscular long term condition such as cerebral palsy or spina bifida. It could also be that the bones in the foot were not developed correctly in the womb. Because the feet act as the body’s shock absorbers, even small abnormalities like flat feet can cause problems further up the body. If the hips are even slightly out of place because of the positioning of the feet, over time this can lead to pain in the lower back.

Joint Pain Associated with Flat Feet

Flat feet – as well as other foot conditions such as the opposite of flat feet, high arches – can cause pain in the shins, knees, ankles, hips or lower back. You may be referred to a podiatrist who could recommend support for the feet in the form of orthotics (specially made insoles) or specially made supportive shoes. These can provide extra support for the foot to stop it rolling inwards or outwards which can trigger the pain in the joints.

Losing weight may also help the pain associated with flat feet if you are overweight. A physiotherapist can suggest exercises to stretch the muscles and tissues in the lower legs and feet, but none of these treatment options can physically change the shape of the feet or their appearance.

If you are already suffering from long term back pain and think flat feet may be the reason, you should see a back specialist such as a chiropractor as well as a foot specialist. If the back has stiffened up over time in certain areas, manual therapy techniques and spinal adjustments can offer instant relief while the treatment for flat feet continues. At Canary Wharf Chiropractic we conduct a full body assessment so we can look at your alignment and identify problem areas – and if needed, we will always refer you to another specialist to tackle the root cause of the back pain.

If you’re suffering from back or knee pain and haven’t considered if your feet could be the problem, book an appointment with us today to investigate.