How Orthotics Can Improve Your Back Pain

How Orthotics Can Improve Your Back Pain

Custom orthotics are shoe inserts that serve a wide range of purposes within podiatry. Any time you have pain in the sole of your foot, pain in the arch because it’s too high or low, plantar fasciitis, or pain from sports injuries, custom orthotics are a likely treatment recommendation from your podiatrist with or without other treatments at the same time.

Our experienced podiatrist Michael Ruiz, DPM, at Lake Erie Podiatry in Erie, Pennsylvania, creates custom orthotics using advanced scanning technology. It maps out the anatomy of your feet and creates 3D computer-generated images of them. Using these scans, Dr. Ruiz creates custom orthotics that align with the contours of your soles. They provide support where your feet need it most in order to improve your walking and encourage injury healing. 

This might come as a surprise, but back pain is on the list of treatable conditions using custom orthotics. While a podiatrist might not be the first physician you think to visit for pain in your back, you might be referred to a podiatrist specifically for custom orthotics.

Here’s how orthotics improve pain along the spine and elsewhere in the back:

Alignment of the musculoskeletal system

If you’re already no stranger to back pain and attempting to manage it, you might already know that your entire body needs to be in alignment in order to prevent pain. Your musculoskeletal system, which includes all bones, joints, muscles, and soft tissue, is interconnected. This means when one specific part of your musculoskeletal system falls out of alignment, a domino effect takes place and leads to problems in other areas. 

The structures of your feet are within this system. When you sustain a foot injury or condition leading to foot pain, the imbalance follows your leg upward and throws off the alignment of your spine. In turn, nerve compression can occur somewhere in the back and cause pain. 

Take your arches, for example. A particularly high arch of the foot can cause your ankle to naturally roll inward as you stand still. This causes your whole leg to stand at an angle, which shifts your body weight. Back pain isn’t the only issue that can arise in this scenario (so can bunions and knock-knees, among others), but improving the mechanics of your foot with custom orthotics can resolve the pain in your back. 

Improving your gait

Your gait is defined as your natural manner of walking. The kinetic chain is the chain of specific anatomical events that happen when you walk, including the rolling of each foot across the ground, the flexing of your toes, and the bending of your knees. It also includes your hip movements and pelvis. Irregular hip and pelvis movement can destabilize the spine. 

The specific movements of your feet are at the start of the kinetic chain, so any misalignment within them affects each part of the chain thereafter. This is why back pain is a common result of an irregular gait. 

Advanced custom orthotics are made using computers and 3D technology in order to pinpoint the exact anatomical feature or injury of the foot that’s affecting your gait. During your treatment consultation at Lake Erie Podiatry, Dr. Ruiz evaluates your gait by asking you to walk. 

Choosing an orthotic

Dr. Ruiz works with a couple different types of orthotics. After his detailed evaluation of your foot anatomy and gait, he decides if soft, rigid, or semi-rigid orthotics are your best option for managing back pain. 

Rigid orthotics tend to be the go-to choice for pain in the legs, hips, and lower back, while semi-rigid orthotics might be your best bet if you’re an athlete and exercising exacerbates your back pain. Soft orthotics are generally reserved for arthritis or diabetic feet. 

If you’re interested in exploring your orthotic options for back pain, schedule an appointment over the phone or online at Lake Erie Podiatry today. 

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