This is a question I often get asked by patients and my answer is YES, custom orthotics do work for lower back pain. They can work on their own, but in my experience as a chiropractor, I often combine chiropractic treatment with custom orthotics for my patients with lower back pain. Frequently, custom orthotics will at the very minimum decrease the lower back pain and very often completely eliminate it. The effect is gradual but most patients report much diminished, or eliminated, back pain after a few months of custom orthotic wear. If you experience lower back pain after standing or walking for extended periods of time, custom orthotics will most likely work for you.
Most lower back pain patients come to me after already exhausting other strategies suggested to them from other health professionals. Many of these strategies are usually directed at the back which could include exercise, core strengthening, ice and heat, pain medications and more. Once many of these are tested with no results patients start searching for alternative treatments and many are surprised to start looking at the foot for solutions to back pain.
So, why do custom orthotics work for lower back pain when you are wearing them on your feet? Well, the musculoskeletal system is a connected entity starting from the feet to the neck so naturally all its parts will affect one another similar to chain links. This phenomenon is known as the Closed Chain of Links. The feet are the foundation of this chain and is the point where the rest of the body can align and stabilize itself. Subsequently, if support is lacking in the feet other parts of the body could endure additional stress leading to pain.
Imbalances in the feet, ankles and knees can also lead to an abnormal gait. These lower extremity imbalances contribute to pain in other parts of the body including the lower back. The best treatment to correct abnormal gaits is a combination of chiropractic adjustments and custom orthotics. The chiropractic adjustments will correct any alignment issues in the spine and the custom orthotics will help retain it by properly supporting the feet.
Custom orthotics will correct any foot imbalances for improved weight distribution. Once foot imbalances are addressed the lower extremities will be returned to their proper alignment. With the lower extremities aligned the pelvis can then return to it’s balanced location. Once the foundations for the spine are restored pain caused by poor body mechanics is eliminated. If you have back pain and would like to be fitted for custom orthotics, please contact us.