Foot Orthotics and the Management of Low Back Pain

It’s certainly a stretch of distance from the foot to the low back but it appears that the use of foot orthotics can help back pain.

Foot orthotics is commonly prescribed to help painful lower extremity conditions caused by excessive foot pronation.  The use of orthotics is commonly accepted in the treatment of many lower extremity conditions.  Practitioners however have long been skeptical about the use of orthotics in the treatment of low back pain.

In a recent review of literature, Lower Extremity Review January 2014 made a compelling argument for the use of orthotics in the treatment of low back pain. Citing numerous published studies including allopathic, podiatric as well as chiropractic sources, all studies independently showed various levels of improvement with orthotics.

One cited study suggested that short term low back pain as encountered in motor vehicle accidents showed improvement in low back pain, as well as a reduction of pain scores and analgesic use.  One study, suggested that foot pronation may play a bigger role in low back pain improvement with orthotic use.  A study conducted by Orthotics and Prosthetics International, supported the link between abnormal foot pronation and low back pain improvement with the use of orthotics.

Chronic low back pain can be debilitating. Suffers of back pain are generally highly motivated to find solutions to their pain and are less sensitive to the cost of orthotic devices. Although, the use of custom foot orthotics was discussed in the review literature, no mention of the use of non custom orthotic devices was seen.  It would make good sense that if a custom foot orthotic was helpful in treatment then likewise, the use of a supportive non custom foot orthotic would also be observed. The significant cost difference between custom and non custom foot orthotics would seem to make the use of non custom foot orthotic a good starting point to determine whether or not the back pain will respond to foot pronation control.