Orthotics can correct a number of back, foot, and gait problems, as well as help relieve back pain non-surgically.
Orthotics are custom-fitted devices that you insert into your footwear. Depending on your condition, you will need precise measurements of your foot and possibly your leg as well. Sometimes a plaster cast of your foot will be taken, or you can step on a device that takes measurements.
Foot orthotics are manufactured out of a variety of different materials, such as plastic and leather, and function biomechanically with a person’s foot. In order to get custom orthotics, you will need to see a specialist such as a chiropractor or podiatrist to get properly evaluated and measured.
Orthotics, a quite simple therapy, can help relieve back pain associated with:
- musculoskeletal weakness
- bone misalignment
- poor biomechanics of the feet
- faulty or excessive motions of your feet
- a ruptured disc
- unnecessary stress to your low back
- having one leg longer than the other
- having flat feet
A closer look
Having one leg longer than the other is fairly common. The difference may be so subtle that you don’t even notice it (most people don’t), but it can throw off your gait and cause back pain. In this instance, your doctor will prescribe a heel lift orthotic for the shorter leg to compensate for the length difference. This must be done precisely, or your back pain could get even worse.
If you have flat feet, they probably don’t support your body’s weight too well. This can cause abnormal walking patterns. When you walk in a way to compensate for being flat footed, it can be problematic for your hips and lower back. In addition, if your ankle rolls inward when you take a step, it can affect your gait and result in back pain. Most likely, you will need foot orthotics with a strong arch support to overcome these conditions. They will improve your gait and relieve stress on your back.
When your gait becomes normal, your back pain should resolve. Orthotics can also help cushion your feet from shock due to strenuous activity and re-align your lower body.
Karen Appold is a writer in Leigh Valley, Pennsylvania.