Back pain can felt anywhere on the spine from the neck to the hips and is a condition millions of people suffer from. One of the most common forms is lower back pain, lumbago or lumbar sacral pain. Mostly back pain will disappear with time but in some cases it can persist and be highly debilitating.
Rachel Miller is a highly experienced podiatrist who treats many patients for back pain. Please see below if you want more detailed explanation of back conditions, their symptoms, causes and treatment.
Contact the Centre for an appointment on 020 8348 5553
Symptoms of back pain
There is a wide range of back pain symptoms which can depend on the condition and its severity including:
- muscle ache or stiffness
- muscle spasms
- shooting or stabbing pain that can radiate down your legs
- pain that is worse bending, lifting, standing or walking
- pain that is better lying down
- a dull aching pain in the lower back
- pins and needles
There are many conditions of back pain including –
- Sciatica which is an irritation of the sciatic nerve that runs from your lower back through your hip and down each leg.
- Strained muscles.
- Structural causes such as prolapsed disks where the cartilage presses on a nerve.
- Spinal osteoarthritis which is a deterioration in the cartilage of joints in your lower back.
- Osteoporosis, a loss of bone density and thinning of the bone, creating small fractures in your vertebrae that can cause pain.
Some symptoms indicate a more serious medical problem such as:
- a loss of bowel or bladder control
- numbness or tingling in the legs
- intense pain
- unexplained weight loss
- a persistent fever
If you have these symptoms or ones that persist over a long period of time you should let your doctor know.
Causes of back pain
The majority of lower back complaints are caused by strain and repetitive or stress injury.
Other causes can include:
- structural problems involving the spine
- nerve related
- a problem with ligaments
- being overweight
- even a poor mattress
Another a major source of back pain is caused by poor posture. Working in the office or at home in front of a computer, watching TV on the sofa can contribute to poor posture and consequently back pain. We can have poor posture standing upright which worsens over longer periods. We might be aware of our body posture if thinking about it but correcting it is not so easy.
Problems with your body posture can cause your foot to over-pronate, roll inwards during motion or supinate, roll too far outwards during motion, both of which can cause foot pain. Over-pronation is the most common foot problem and can give rise to numerous conditions among which are back problems. When you over-pronate your legs rotate inwards which increases tension on your muscles in the lower back thus causing pain.
Treatment of back pain
One factor when investigating the nature of back pain is how your joints, muscles, ligaments, etc., interlock and interact with each other so that one joint affects all the other joints during motion. The principle of interlocking joints is sometimes called the kinetic chain. A particular foot structure does have unique characteristics which affect the timing and movement of joints higher up the kinetic chain which may create susceptibilities, possibly leading to foot, back and other conditions to appear.
In conditions such as flat feet (pes planus) you may over-pronate, your feet may roll to the inner side when you are standing and walking and it may also cause the feet to point outward. This can cause pain in the feet due to strained muscles and ligaments and tension on the muscles in the lower back causing pain and discomfort. An orthotic insole may be effective in treating discomfort by giving your feet support and relieving pressure on their arches.
If you have such a conditions such as high arches (pes cavus) your weight baring is not evenly distributed by the foot increasing strains and stresses. Excessive supination, your foot rolling inwards during motion, can lead to back and hip pain, stress on the knee, ankle injuries and plantar fasciitis. The aim of treatment in pes cavus is to distribute weight across a larger area of your foot. A bespoke orthotic insole may be effective in achieving this. A custom made orthotic insole will conform exactly to your arch, reduce pressure and help stabilise your foot.
Call 020 8348 5553 to make an appointment
If you have back pain you may benefit from a specialist biomechanical assessment to help accurately diagnose your condition and give you a treatment plan. This can include exercise advice, footwear advice and a bespoke orthotic insole might be prescribed which may help stabilise and support your foot.
Rachel Miller is a highly experienced podiatrist specialising in biomechanics and orthotic insoles who sees many patients with back pain. Her clinic is in the Highgate Health Centre in Highgate village, N6, London every weekend on either Saturday or Sunday and every Tuesday. Contact the Centre for an appointment on 020 8348 5553. For clinic directions and maps see the Contact page and for information about orthotic insoles and biomechanics see the Biomechanics page .
Conditions that can benefit from a biomechanical assessment include:
- Heel pain
- Ankle injuries
- Sports injuries
- Plantar fasciitis
- High arches/flat feet
- Achilles tendinopathy
- Overuse injuries
- Knee pain
- Back pain
- Sprained ankles
- Stress fractures
- Tarsal tunnel syndrome
- Morton’s neuroma
- Heel pad syndrome
- Haglund’s deformity
- Hammer toe and mallet toe
- Sever’s disease
- Patellofemoral pain syndrome
- Patella Tendinopathy
- Osgood-Schlatter disease