Research shows lower back pain may start at the feet

Aug 16 2011
Millions of Americans are plagued by chronic lower back pain (LBP) and still relatively little is known about this common problem.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), an estimated two-thirds of adults suffer from LBP at some point. Most of these individuals are diagnosed with non-specific LBP and nearly 85 percent are never provided with a specific reason for their discomfort, according to the CDC.

However, researchers may have come a step closer to finding the cause of back pain. A study from Foot Levelers, an orthotics company, suggested a connection between LBP and foot problems, according to An estimated 80 percent of Americans suffer from back pain at some point, according to the National Institutes of Health. In addition, David Magee, a professor of physical therapy at the University of Alberta, reported in his work Orthopedic Physical Assessment that 80 percent of adults suffer from foot problems.

A 1981 study found that there may be a connection between LBP and excessive pronation of the feet, which University of Iowa Health Care defines as rotating the foot inward when walking or running. This can cause foot pain because the body’s weight is supported only by the inner part of the sole, according to the website. Foot Leveler’s researchers examined the feet of chiropractic patients to see if they displayed excessive pronation. The results indicated that 77 percent of the patients being treated by chiropractors displayed mild to moderate over-pronation.

These findings suggest a growing correlation between foot ailments and LBP. This may change the way chiropractors examine patients, according to the media outlet. reports that most chiropractic examinations for back pain only begin at the pelvis, rather than the feet. Evaluation of the extremities could help determine the cause of LBP more specifically, according to the news site.

Excessive pronation of the feet can be corrected by using orthotics, which can help to alleviate pain and correct the motion of the foot, according to University of Iowa Health Care. A doctor’s evaluation can determine whether orthotic support will help for LBP, according to