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2 Foot Problems That Can Cause Low Back Pain — And How to Treat Them

2 Foot Problems That Can Cause Low Back Pain — And How to Treat Them

If you suffer from low back pain, your problems may actually be caused by your feet. You may not think about your feet very often, but they do an essential job of helping your whole body move. When your feet suffer, it stresses other parts of your body, including your lower back.

Problems like plantar fasciitis and bunions are just two common foot conditions that can also cause pain in your lower back. Fortunately, both are often treatable if you see a podiatrist. The providers at Washington Foot & Ankle Sports Medicine explain more about these foot conditions and how they are treated.

The link between your feet and your lower back

Lower back pain is extremely common. Of Americans, 80% will experience lower back pain at some point in their lives, with the worst cases becoming chronic. Another source says that 54% of adults have had back pain for over five years.

While there are many potential causes of back pain, one of the most common is also the most treatable: problems with your feet. When you think about it, though, this makes logical sense. If your feet hurt, it changes how you walk (what podiatrists refer to as your gait.) Walking differently to adapt to your foot pain puts your entire body out of alignment, especially your back and hips. Before you know it, your lower back is in constant pain.

Other lifestyle habits can also contribute to your back pain, including not getting regular enough exercise and spending too much time sitting down.

Plantar fasciitis

This common foot problem feels like a stabbing pain in your heels. It’s usually worse when you first wake up and gradually improves throughout the day. The plantar fascia is a thin band of tissue that runs between your heel and the balls of your feet. When it becomes inflamed, it’s a condition called plantar fasciitis.

You’re more at risk of developing plantar fasciitis if you suddenly ramp up your physical activity too quickly. You’re also at greater risk of developing it if you’re overweight or obese. While some stretches are recommended, you must be cautious not to tear the fascia.


Bunions are bony growths that can change the shape of your feet. Most often, they occur at the base of your big toe, at the metatarsophalangeal joint (MTJ.) Sometimes, bunions are genetic. But often, they are caused by your footwear habits. Wearing shoes that are too tight in the toes can create the perfect conditions for bunions to form.

Some of the symptoms of bunions may include:

Your big toe may even appear to overlap or press against other toes. You should seek help from one of the Run Doctor specialists if you have a bunion because it won’t go away on its own.

What can be done

If you have plantar fasciitis or bunions, both conditions are treatable. You can use non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs like ibuprofen (Advil®, Motrin®) or naproxen (Aleve®) and ice packs to reduce the pain (and swelling, if applicable.)

You can also get bunion pads to help relieve the pressure on your feet if you have bunions. And with both conditions, wearing proper footwear is essential. Wear supportive shoes with plenty of room in the toe area. In some cases, we may also need to do surgery to remove bunions.

You can also get custom orthotics to wear in your shoes. These inserts are custom-made to uniquely fit your feet and help you to maintain better posture, alleviate pain, and restore your balance. 

If you’re having lower back pain, it could help to schedule an appointment with one of our Run Doctor specialists. Contact the Washington Foot & Ankle Sports Medicine providers or request an appointment online.

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