Patient Profile: Custom Orthotics for Back Pain
Jennifer: Sometimes pain and discomfort in your feet can be caused by a problem in your back. This was the case with Lori, one of my patients.
Lori is a home care worker, and is required to be on her feet all day. She always made appropriate footwear choices. However, when she came to see me, she was experiencing occasional discomfort in her toes that was worse when not wearing shoes.
During her initial assessment, I examined her postural alignment, joint mobility, muscular strength, and how these factors affected her while walking. Everything looked good except for a slight imbalance and lack of stabilization on her left side.
Her results indicated that the source of the problem was stemming from her low back, and I recommended she return to her physician to investigate chiropractics and physiotherapy prior to considering the custom orthotics. In the meantime, I suggested she wear a molded therapeutic sandal to avoid irritations while barefoot.
Lori returned for a re-assessment after physiotherapy discovered the source of the problem was a compressed nerve in her lower back. Her therapist recommended she pursue foot orthotics to complement her treatment.
Nerve issues can be very complicated to treat. The advantage of custom orthotics is they are made exactly to suit the patient’s foot and condition. Lori’s orthotics were designed to help disperse the pressure on her lower limbs and feet.
Over the course of two months, I met with Lori a few times to perfect the comfort and support of her orthotics. During this time, her nerve pain had created new discomfort in her right foot so I made an adjustment to her orthotics, including adding a small insert called a neuroma sliver that decreased the irritation, inflammation, and making a world of a difference.
Lori: Custom orthotics have made a big difference in my life. In my job as a home care worker, I’m on my feet a lot all day. Before I had the orthotics, I had an awareness of the pain. With the orthotics, I didn’t feel any pain at all. I was pain free and a lot more comfortable on my feet.
I was definitely surprised when I learned that the pain in my foot actually stemmed from the pain in my back. I mean, I knew that everything was connected, but I had no idea of how much. The difference, once I had the orthotics in, and had worn them for awhile, and all of a sudden, I didn’t have any back pain.
Being able to go and see a pedorthist helped me a lot. It was very encouraging to know that there was somebody there when I was in trouble, and was having pain with my feet, that I could talk to and explain the issue to, knowing that it would be resolved.
It’s been a great blessing having her and orthotics. I wouldn’t be without them now.
Jennifer: Often back problems and nerve conditions can manifest themselves in the feet and it takes a team of healthcare professionals, including doctors, chiropractors, physiotherapists, osteopaths and pedorthists working together to diagnose and treat the problem.
If you are experiencing pain and discomfort in your back, feet or lower limbs, ask your healthcare provider if a Canadian Certified Pedorthist should be added to your healthcare team.