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The Biomechanical errors of individuals born between 1946 and 1964.
There are approximately 76 million baby boomers and this group comprises the largest single segment of the American population. So, if you’ve noticed the median age of your patients has changed, it could be due to the fact that the baby boomers are getting older and beginning to feel the results of many changes taking place in their bodies.
About 80 percent of all men and women will suffer from back pain at some time during their lives,1 and an estimated third of these baby boomers are struggling with it right now.
Chronic low back pain is usually the result of some form of structural weakness or failure.2 Structural weaknesses are brought about by biomechanical errors, structural asymmetries, tissue weaknesses, and imposition of excessive external loads (See table below).
All these factors result in repetitive microtrauma, which is the underlying cause of most low back pain or injury. The source of these conditions must be recognized and treated in order to prevent additional breakdown. And that source is often an imbalance or condition in one or both of the feet.
The feet are the foundation of the body. Statistics show that at birth, most of us have perfect feet. By age 20, 80 percent of those “perfect feet” have developed some type of problem, and by age 40, nearly everyone has a foot condition of some sort.
The pedal foundation
Many foot conditions eventually contribute to health concerns farther up the kinetic chain, especially the generalized condition of back pain. Therefore, it’s in the best interest of both you and your patient to be able to spot a potential low back problem before it is allowed to affect a patient’s health or lifestyle.
During standing and walking (not to mention running, in athletes) the lumbar spine and pelvis balance on the lower extremities. If leg or foot asymmetries or alignment problems are present, abnormal forces are transmitted along the closed kinetic chain, interfering with spinal function.3
When excessive pronation or arch collapse is present, a torque force produces internal rotation stresses to the leg, hip, pelvis, and low back.4 This is where the use of foot orthotics is most effective, and can make chiropractic adjustments more effective and long-lasting.
Causes of back pain
Asking your patients a few simple questions can provide valuable insight into the causes of their back pains. During your examination of a patient who expresses the vague complaint, “My back hurts,” make sure to get answers to the following ten questions:
- Do you stand or walk on hard surfaces for more than four hours daily?
- Do you participate regularly in any physical sport (basketball, baseball, tennis, golf, bowling, etc.)?
- Are you age 40 or over?
- Have you ever had a prior injury to your knee, back, or neck?
- Do your shoes wear unevenly?
- Do you have joint pain while standing, walking, or running?
- Is one of your legs shorter than the other?
- Do you have knock knees or bow legs?
- Do you have any obvious foot problems (bunions, corns, flat feet, etc.)?
- Do your feet “toe out” when you’re walking?
If your patient gives an affirmative answer to any of the above questions, consider this patient a likely candidate for flexible, custom-made orthotics. Improving the foundation can have a very positive effect on the whole kinetic chain: the foot and ankle complex, knees, pelvis, and spine. Reducing biomechanical stress helps reduce pain and discomfort.
An independent survey conducted at Northwestern College of Chiropractic reported that 82 percent of patients wearing orthotics felt they helped their condition overall, and 8 out of 10 wearers would refer others to you to get them.5
Prescribing orthotics can help your patient and can also be a proven asset to the growth of your chiropractic practice.
Mark Charrette, DC, is a 1980 summa cum laude graduate of Palmer College of Chiropractic in Davenport, Iowa. He is a frequent guest speaker at twelve chiropractic colleges and has taught over fourteen hundred seminars worldwide on extremity adjusting, biomechanics, and spinal adjusting techniques. His lively seminars emphasize a practical, hands-on approach. He has authored a book on extremity adjusting and also produced an instructional video series. He has successful practices in California, Nevada, and Iowa and currently resides in Texas.
About Foot Levelers
Foot Levelers, Inc., the world’s leading provider of individually designed functional orthotics and other therapeutic products, has been serving healthcare professionals for over 64 years. Foot Levelers supports every step patients take to enjoy fuller and happier lives at work, home, or play.
- “Back Pain Fact Sheet”, NINDS, Publication date December 2014. National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke.
- Fulton M. Lower back pain: new protocols for diagnosis and treatment. Rehab Management 1988; Nov/Dec: 39-42.
- Keane GP. Back pain complicated by an associated disability. In: White AH, Anderson R., eds. Conservative Care of Low Back Pain. Baltimore: Williams & Wilkins, 1991:307.
- Hammer WI. Hyperpronation: causes and effects. Chiro Sports Med 1992; 6:97-101.
- Northwestern College of Chiropractic (NWCC). Summary of Market Research Findings: Surveys of Chiropractors and Patients. Bloomington MN: NWCC, 1997.