Low Back Pain and Orthotics

Low Back Pain and Orthotics

Low back pain is experienced by most people during their lifetime, and it can come and go, or get progressively worse.

Typically, this pain can stem from a multitude of factors; genetics, previous injuries, or work and activity all come into play. Custom orthotics are typically prescribed for lower limb conditions, but they can help alleviate back pain as well if the cause is mechanical.

There are a few ways your feet and legs can affect your back.

Alignment

Malalignment

Everything in the body is connected, and your feet are your foundation.

If one joint is not aligned, imagine what it does to the rest of the chain? If the feet are overpronated, which is rolling inwards towards the centreline of the body, the knees and the hips would also follow.

As a result, the muscles and bones are always in malalignment. This causes issues such as muscle imbalance and could potentially compress and pinch the spinal discs over time.

The goal of custom orthotics, in this case, is to improve alignment.

Leg Length Difference

You may not notice it, but having a difference in leg length is more common than you think.

It could be structural, where the lower limb bones are different in length. This causes an imbalance in the hips, and hence a malalignment problem.

Custom orthotics and/or a heel lift can assist with lifting up the shorter side to balance the hips.

Underpronation

high archIf the feet are rigid and do not move a lot (underpronation), there can be lack of shock absorption at the feet level.

The impact forces from the ground may accumulate up the lower limb musculature and eventually into the low back, causing significant tightness. Custom orthotics are used to assist with shock absorption and pressure distribution for this foot type.

Proper footwear is important and works hand-in-hand with custom orthotics. Strong, supportive footwear with increased cushioning can assist with providing a good stable base, prevent malalignment, and improve shock absorption.

Other treatments

To help alleviate back pain, consider these treatments:

  • Daily stretching and/or strengthening exercises as recommended by a chiropractor/physiotherapist
  • Massage therapy
  • Back Braces
  • Painkillers
  • Injections/Surgery

It is key to find out what the cause of your back pain is, so you can find the most efficient way to treat it. Your doctor, back specialist, chiropractor or physiotherapist should be on the forefront of your treatment.

It is a good idea to discuss with them whether custom orthotics would be a good addition to your overall treatment.

Mei Poon
Kintec Pedorthist, Richmond

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