We’ve all experienced foot pain before, whether it’s from an injury, bad shoes, or something anatomical like a neuroma, bursitis, tendonitis, or arthritis.
In most cases, your foot pain is caused by problems within the foot itself, but in some cases, it may actually be caused by problems in your spine.
If your foot pain is caused by a problem in your spine, you will almost always have leg pain or numbness as well. It would be unusual to have only the foot pain in isolation.
Telltale signs can also include difficulty bringing your foot up or walking on your tip-toes, and/or experiencing foot heaviness or weakness—commonly referred to as foot drop. It is also more common for symptoms related to a lower back problem to present only on one side of the body; if both feet are affected it is less likely caused by a problem in your lower back.
Spine dysfunctions associated with foot pain
Any dysfunction in the spine that affects the sensitive spinal nerves in your lower back may cause radiating leg pain that extends into your foot.
These conditions commonly include:
- Herniated discs
- Lumbar spinal stenosis
- Enlargement of the facet joints caused by facet joint arthritis or osteoarthritis (bone spurs)
The type of pain felt depends on which nerve is affected and how much. For example, a dysfunction in the L3-L4 segment of the spine may result in pain in the front of the thigh, the front of the knee, the shin, and/or the foot.
Dealing with the underlying cause
If you think your foot pain may be caused by a problem in your spine, consult your primary care physician or a spine specialist for a diagnosis. If any neurological symptoms are present, such as foot drop, it is important to get a diagnosis as soon as possible.
The good news is there are many non-surgical treatments that may help treat the root of the problem and get you back on your feet again.