Can Orthotics Help with Lower Back Pain and Sciatica?
If you suffer from lower back pain (LBP) or sciatica, your health care provider or someone you know may have suggested custom orthotics to help alleviate your lower back pain. You may have questions about orthotics, and whether they really can provide relief of back pain. The answer is that yes, the foot support that custom orthotics provide are designed to cushion the heel, toes, and foot, and can bring relief from discomfort and pain caused by lower back pain, sciatica, poor posture or an unbalanced gait.
Lower Back Pain vs Sciatica
What is Lower Back Pain
Lower back pain (LBP) is just as it sounds: pain in the lower region of your back. It may be general and felt across the entire region of your lower back, or specific to one side or location. LBP can be classified into two categories:
- Chronic Lower Back Pain: any ache or pain lasting longer than three months
- Acute Lower Back Pain: pain that begins following an event such as lifting a heavy object. If you are experiencing severe LBP following an acute event, a trip to the hospital may be best to rule out any major damage.
What is Sciatica?
Sciatica is not a diagnosis, but rather a symptom of any number of common lower back problems. Typically, people suffering from sciatic pain will feel numbness, weakness, tingling, or pain that originates in the lower back and travels through the buttock to the large sciatic nerve that runs down the back of the leg.
How Can Orthotics Help With Lower Back Pain And Sciatica?
Custom foot orthotics are appropriate for a variety of conditions, and Lower Back Pain is no exception! With support found in the current medical literature, custom foot orthoses have been shown to significantly improve pain and disability scores.
Custom Foot Orthotics Control Foot Movements
Depending on your specific foot mechanics, custom foot orthoses can be used to control motions of the foot that may be transferred up the leg and to the lower back. Excessive movement at the foot can be transferred into rotational movement of the leg. This rotation is transferred up to the knee, potentially leading to knee pain, or can pass through the knee up to the hip, causing the muscles in the lower back to work over-time to stabilize. If this is the case, custom foot orthoses may be used to control the movements of the foot and reduce this cascade effect up the leg to the hip and lower back.
Orthotics Reduce Impact on Joints
Custom foot orthoses may also be used to reduce impact forces while walking. When the joints in the foot have reduced ranges of movement, the force of your heel striking the ground may be transferred through your foot and up your leg to the hip and lower back. This pattern is more typical of people with high arches and a rigid foot structure. Through cushioning and evenly distributing the pressure beneath your feet, custom foot orthoses may be used to reduce some of the impact forces associated with walking.
Custom Foot Orthotics to Help Your Lower Back Pain
Orthotics are as unique as the feet they were designed for; therefore, every pair is made with the individual needs, biomechanics, and lifestyle factors in mind. Your SoleScience Pedorthist will carefully weigh all your unique factors and design your orthotics to meet your specific needs and help you with your lower back pain or sciatica. If your needs change over time, we will work with you to adjust, modify, or overhaul your custom orthotics to keep you doing the things you love in comfort.
Thinking about custom foot orthotics? Contact us today to arrange an appointment for a comprehensive assessment by one of our experts!