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Can Flat Feet Cause Lower Back Pain

What Are Fallen Arches

Can flat feet cause knee pain and back pain?

Fallen arches, or flat feet, occur when your tendons dont work together to keep the arches of your feet raised. For some people, it begins as an abnormality at birth, but it can also result from an injury, such as stretched, torn, or damaged tendons.

Other causes include:

  • Rheumatoid arthritis

You also may have a higher risk of fallen arches if you are obese, have diabetes, or are pregnant. Flat feet also become more common as we age.

The arches of your feet arent a design fluke. The biomechanics of the lower leg and foot is exceptionally complicated , and even a small disruption to the function of your leg and foot can cause crippling pain and injury.

Why Flat Feet Are Bad For Your Health

Flat feet occur when the arch of the foot is too low while in a standing position. Although the foot naturally flattens somewhat when it bears weight, flat feet retain little or no arch at all, putting the entire sole of the foot into contact with the ground. Flat feet are a common cause of foot, ankle, leg, and back pain due to insufficient support of the bodys weight during standing or movement.

Chronic Muscle Strain

Flat feet are not as proficient at keeping the body stable as feet that have a normal arch. As a consequence, people with flat feet are at a higher risk of developing chronic muscle strain as the muscles of the body are forced to compensate for the foots lack of stability. While your body may be able to adapt to your foots lack of support during everyday activities, when you increase your activity level by even a small amount, it can cause significant pain and muscle strain.

Leg and Back Pain

Normal feet are designed to keep the entire lower body in the proper configuration when you stand or walk. Flat feet do not provide the same foundation for healthy posture. As the foot collapses toward the ground, the lower legs tend to rotate inward. This inward rotation can affect the entire leg, including the hips, leading to long-term leg and back pain.

Musculoskeletal Problems

Posterior Tibial Tendon Dysfunction

PTTD is a medical condition that affects one of the foots most crucial tendons: the posterior tibial tendon. Thats from where its name is generated. If a person has flat feet caused by PTTD, he/she may feel pain in the foot or along the back calf.

The tendons present in the foot are mainly responsible for supporting the arch. If the tendons are torn or get injured, it can lead to a collapsed arch. This way, the person can acquire painful flat feet, especially when walking or standing.

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Can Foot And Back Pain Be Related

If a nerve root in the lower back is irritated or compressed, it can cause pain to travel along the sciatic line. This pain can be severe enough to cause you to miss work or school. If youre experiencing pain in this area, its important to see your doctor as soon as possible to rule out other conditions that could be causing the pain.

Do Flat Feet Cause Back Pain

Can Insoles Really Cause Back Pain?

In a recent study, researchers found that women who have flat feet, a common condition, are 50 percent more likely to have pain in their lower back as opposed to those with normal or high arches. This study is the first of its kind to make a significant connection between low back pain and flat feet.

Published in the journal Rheumatology, the study examined both men and women, measuring each subjects arch in the standing position and how pressure was distributed on the foot while walking. To confirm and expand the findings, future studies will likely follow participants with different types of arches for a significant period of time, and will attempt to determine what effect interventions such as orthotics may have on the development of back pain.

So why are women more affected by walking with flat feet than men? Marian Hannan, senior author of the study, and her team were not able to determine exact causes but suggested a few possible reasons. For example, pelvic bones in women are wider than and not as flexible as those in men, and women tend to rotate their hips and move their upper bodies more as they walk.

Another option, covered in a Reuters article about the study, is to strengthen muscles in the feet by laying a towel on a flat surface, then scrunching the toes together in order to pick up the towel and lower it back down. Feet are the first and only point of contact with the ground maintaining a strong foundation will ensure stability in your body.

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Can Having Flat Feet Cause Back Problems

Back pain is a common condition that affects people all over the world. It can be caused by active incidents such as straining or spraining while lifting or inherent conditions like kyphosis. A less obvious cause can be a persons gait or in most cases, the structure of their feet.

Can having flat feet cause back problems? Absolutely, though other factors can aggravate the symptoms. Fortunately, the treatment options for this kind of back pain are relatively simple, as long as the cause is addressed before things get worse.

Why Do Flat Feet Cause Back Pain

Back pain is an extremely common condition and in many cases, the cause is unknown. From posture and alignment to activities we carry out on a daily basis, there are many reasons why back pain is a growing problem affecting 1 in 10 people.

Ongoing lower back pain can be debilitating, causing emotional distress and forcing sufferers to take time off work. Despite this, it is still an often overlooked condition and GPs struggle to find the root of the problem or prescribe the best treatment. Medication such as painkillers simply masks the problem rather than treating the underlying cause.

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Prevent And Correct Ankle Knee Hip And Lower Back Pain

One of the simplest ways to prevent and correct ankle, knee, hip, and lower back pain is to have your feet properly evaluated by looking at all three arches in the foot. If youve been diagnosed or think you have flat feet the time to address, it is now before more damage occurs with custom orthotics made specifically for you.

Not all orthotics are created equal Unfortunately, I see patients come in more often with poorly made custom orthotics. Many Podiatrists are using the same methods from 40-50 years ago. Only correcting the medial arch by taking a mold of your feet while standing in a foam box or making an impression with plaster, these methods are outdated and inaccurate.

Luckily, over the past decade, laser technology from foot levelers has helped doctors improve and streamline the accuracy and fabrication of the perfect custom foot orthotic.

At Synergy Wellness Chiropractic and Physical Therapy in New York City we always offer a FREE Foot levelers Laser Scan to evaluate your feet and if needed make a perfect pair of affordable orthotics or your money back. Unfortunately, most orthotics only correct one arch . Footlevelers Scanner can read all three arches using laser technology. Therefore, fabricating a betterquality laser cut orthotic that is guaranteed.

Each foot and arch needs to be properly evaluated

Diagnosing Flat Feet And Fallen Arches

How Flat Feet Can Cause Back Pain

Your doctor examines your feet to determine two things:

  • Whether you have flat feet

An exam may include these steps:

  • Checking your health history for evidence of illnesses or injuries that could be linked to flat feet or fallen arches
  • Looking at the soles of your shoes for unusual wear patterns
  • Observing the feet and legs as you stand and do simple movements, such as raising up on your toes
  • Testing the strength of muscles and tendons, including other tendons in the feet and legs, such as the Achilles tendon or the posterior tibial tendon
  • Taking X-rays or an MRI of your feet

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Not Only Your Back But Flat Feet Also Affecting Your Legs As Well

Having an uneven stand position since a young age and untreated over time will make your leg to form an X alphabet or knock knee.

Though flat feet is not only the cause of knock-knee, several diseases are causing it, such as rheumatoid arthritis, osteoarthritis, rickets, injury, and excessive pressure.

Knock-knee can be seen when there is a large gap between your feet with your knees close together when standing.

Genu Valgum or knock-knee is one of the leg dysfunction that makes you disqualify when applying for the army or joining the military.

Low Back Pain Tied To Flat Feet: Study

By Kathleen Raven, Reuters Health

4 Min Read

NEW YORK – Women who walk with flat feet are 50 percent more likely than those with normal or high arches to have low back pain, a new study suggests.

The key takeaway from the study is that if women have low back pain, it may not be just the back, said senior author Marian Hannan of the Institute for Aging Research at Hebrew SeniorLife in Boston.

It turns out that feet are important for the back.

Past research has hinted that low back pain, which affects roughly one in five people worldwide, could be related to the shape of the foots arch in the standing position.

This study, published in Rheumatology, focused on the arch while a person walked.

Among 1,930 men and women recruited from Framingham, Massachusetts, pronated feet – which tend to roll inward as a person walks – were linked to lower back pain in women only.

There has been only weak correlation between pronated feet and low back pain so I was happy to see some evidence of this in the study, said Christopher Kevin Wong.

He is an associate professor of rehabilitation and regenerative medicine at Columbia University in New York City and was not involved with the current study.

For their study, Hannan and her colleagues measured each persons arch in the standing position. Then participants walked across a mat with embedded sensors to measure pressure from the heel to the tip of the foot while walking.

Source: Rheumatology, online September 17, 2013.

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Flat Feet Versus Arched Feet

Flat feet, or fallen arches, is a relatively common condition that occurs when the arch on the bottom of the foot is not present. Most people have an arch that prevents their entire sole from touching the ground. However, people with flat feet don’t have the proper bone structure or tendon tension in their feet to provide this arch.

Flat feet can be identified by a single footprint. People with arched feet will leave behind a partial print of their foot, while flat-footed people will leave behind an imprint of their entire foot.

Children are usually flat-footed, as the bones and tendons in their feet haven’t developed yet. Some of these children never develop an arch, making them flat-footed for life. Some adults end up with flat feet after years of walking and standing, which weakens the arch structure. Obesity also increases the risk of flat-footedness over time.

Test Yourself For Flat Feet

Pain Relief

You can easily test yourself to see if you might have fallen arches or flat feet. Follow these three steps:

  • Get your feet wet.
  • Stand on a flat surface where your footprint will show, such as on a concrete walkway.
  • Step away and look at the prints. If you see complete imprints of the bottom of your feet on the surface, then you’re likely to have flat feet.
  • Many young children have flat feet, a condition referred to as flexible flat feet. When the child stands, the feet look flat. But when the child rises to their toes, a slight arch appears. In most cases, as children grow older, the arches develop.

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    Can Flat Feet Cause Back Pain

    The spine acts as the primary support that keeps us upright. Flat feet can cause back pain because of the interdependent system. If your feet are flat on the ground, your spine is in a neutral position. Your hips and knees are in the same position as they would be if you were standing on your toes.

    If you have a flat foot, this is not the case. In fact, if your foot is flat, you are more likely to be in pain than if it is elevated. The reason is that your body is trying to compensate for the lack of support from the feet. Its a natural response to the fact that you cant support your entire body weight on one foot.

    You need to balance the weight of your whole body on both feet, and thats what your lower back is designed to do. When youre flat-footed, its more difficult for your spinal column to maintain its normal alignment, which causes your back to ache and your pain to increase.

    Why Flat Foot Is Not Allowed In Army

    Army personnel are required to go through a physical regimen. A person with flat feet wont be able to do these activities. If foot arch is not fully developed it will not act as a shock absorber, instead shock will be absorb by the bones of the foot.

    A person who has a flat foot will have a hard time walking up stairs. The pressure on the heels is much higher than that of an arch, which is why a person cant walk up a flight of stairs without having to bend his or her knees.

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    Can Flat Feet Cause Low Back Pain


    When the entire sole of the foot is in contact or near contact with the ground while standing, it is considered a flat foot. The result is that there is no arch to the foot. Flat foot is a common disorder. It is a complex deformity, and there are types and stages that vary in degree of symptoms and disability. Flat feet are also referred to as pes planus, posterior tibial tendon dysfunction, and fallen arches.


    • Some people are born with this condition
    • Tarsal coalitions: A condition where joints bridge or grow together restricting or prohibiting movement of that joint.
    • Accessory navicular bone : a small extra bone in the posterior tibial tendon that causes a weakening of support to the arch
    • Ligament laxity in diseases such as Marfan syndromeor Ehlers-Danlos syndrome
    • Charcot arthropathy


    Symptoms of flat foot may include pain that may be in the inside arch, heel, or ankle and on the outside of the foot just below the ankle. Flattening of the arch can lead to rolling in of the foot and ankle and tilting outward of the heel. Flatfoot can also cause shin pain , and misalignments of the knee, hip, and/or lower back causing pain and irritation.


    What Is The Foot Arch

    3 Critical Exercises For Pronated, Flat Feet. (Causing Foot, Knee & Back Pain) UPDATED

    There are actually three arches in the foot: the more famous one is the medial arch . The arches are designed similar to a spring for shock absorption during walking and other weight bearing activities. Structurally, these arches are formed by bones in the foot and supported by the ligaments and muscles. These arches are also not rigidly held in place and are design to collapse and reform when we stand, walk and do exercises.

    When the arch is constantly held in a collapsed position, it is term as Pes planus or flat foot.

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    Flat Feet Are More Common In Children

    Although children are at the top of the risk, they dont require treatment for flat feet or pes planus. The connective tissue will do the job as they grow.

    Except if the pes planus occurrence is in the level of the red flag or can be seen extremely detail, the orthotic surgery is needed.

    However, in adults, the appearance of flat feet needs a further examination based on the cause, symptoms, and genetics.

    Can Flat Feet Be Corrected In Adults

    In adults, flat feet usually remain permanently flat. Treatment usually addresses the symptoms rather than a cure. The condition is called acquired flatfoot because it affects feet that at one point in time had a normal longitudinal arch. As one person moves from one foot to the other, the deformity may get worse.

    Flat feet can be caused by a variety of factors, but the most common cause is a congenital defect in the arch of the foot, called a metatarsophalangeal defect. They are most commonly seen in babies born to mothers who are obese or who have a history of diabetes, high blood pressure, heart disease, or high cholesterol.

    Other factors that can lead to a flat foot include the following: Poorly developed bones and ligaments, such as the tibia, fibula, and calcaneus. These bones are not strong enough to support the weight of an adults foot. Poor circulation to these bones. This can occur because of a lack of blood flow to them, a condition known as arteriovenous malformation or arteriosclerosis.

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    Flat Feet And Lower Back Pain

    August 5, 2015Filed Under: Uncategorized

    So how do you know if you are flat-footed and susceptible to these aches and pains?

    Here is a simple test you can perform:

  • Stand on a flat surface where your footprint will be visible, such as a concrete floor.
  • Step away, then look at the prints. A complete imprint of the bottom of your foot indicates you have flat feet, if there is a gap or space in the middle between the toes and heel, you have more normal arches.

    Here are some causes of flat feet:

    • an abnormality present at birth
    • stretched or torn tendons
    • nerve complications
    • routine stretching exercises for feet or physical therapy
    • over-the-counter pain relief medications


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