Foot orthotics is a type of back pain treatment that doesn’t actually deal with you back directly – it’s more concerned with your legs and feet. This type of back pain treatment involves that very simple technique of a doctor measuring your leg length or examining your feet. And it can be a surprisingly effective form of back pain treatment.
“None of the doctors to whom I brought my back problem ever measured my legs, with the exception of those at the National Institute of Health in Bethesda, Maryland”, reported a film editor. “The correction made [by varying the height of one shoe] was the only “back pain treatment” that really eased my pain. My orthopedic surgeon told me that many people go through life not knowing that one of their legs is shorter than the other. Even a slight difference can cause exhaustion and back pain.”
“The most help I’ve received came from a half-inch lift in my right shoe,” said a mechanic who had back pain for twenty years before he was virtually cured by this simple and very inexpensive back pain treatment device.
“After enough doctors tell you that the problem is in your head,” a clothing salesperson explained, “you start to believe it. Well, their thinking was upside down. Orthotics corrected my weak and painful arches. This let me walk normally. My back pain vanished and I haven’t had any major problems for ten years.”
This back pain treatment (an orthotic) is a prescribed shoe insert. But for our purposes, let’s define it as any corrective shoe form that can help your feet and your back, whether it’s a commercially available heel lift or arch support, or a prescribed insert that runs the length of your shoe.
Clearly, anything that affects the way you stand or walk can affect your back. According to a study at Iowa State University, an extraordinary 90 per cent of low back pain sufferers were free of pain one year after using the kind of arch supports you can find in any chemist.
Can a shoe insert relieve your back pain?
If you have back and hip pain, it’s definitely worth trying to solve the problem from your feet up. If you think your legs may be only slightly different in length, it’s best to see a podiatrist, surgical appliance specialist or possibly a rheumatologist or physiotherapist. For significant differences in length, you may need to be referred to an orthopedic surgeon.
It is important to note that orthotics do have an element of risk. Your back pain could be made worse – with markedly increased pain – because of inappropriately prescribed inserts. Furthermore, any significant change needs to be made gradually, particularly if you have a lot of back pain at the time. Abruptly changing the way you walk can aggravate a back problem. With this in mind, it seems sensible to wear new inserts for only 30 minutes the first day and 30 minutes more each day thereafter until you build up to using them all the time.