Foot pain is an affliction that seems to affect almost everybody at some point in their lives. While most of the time it is caused by some outside disturbance (such as ill-fitting shoes) or a problem within the foot itself, sometimes foot pain is caused by a completely different part of the body. One of the main problem areas that can cause foot pain is the back. Let’s take a closer look at the link between back problems, sciatica, and foot pain!
How can back problems cause foot pain?
Most people are quite surprised when they find out that their foot pain can be caused by a seemingly unrelated back issue. Yet, it can happen! When it does, this type of pain is typically caused by a malfunction in the lumbar back region that is causing nerve problems in other parts of the body. Nerve pains in the foot that stem from this area usually end up being diagnosed as sciatica symptoms.
What are sciatica symptoms?
Sciatica symptoms are generally characterized by painful and uncomfortable sensations caused by the pinching of the sciatic nerve from compression in the lumbar spine region.
The sciatic nerve is the single longest nerve found in the human body; it runs from both sides of the lower backbone through the back of the butt, thighs, and then all the way down to the feet. That is why when the sciatica nerve is aggravated, pains can occur anywhere it is located, including the feet.
It should be noted that if you are suffering from foot pain occurring from a sciatica issue, the pain is rarely only localized in just the feet. Usually, sciatica pain is felt through the affected nerve’s pathway in different parts of the hips, buttocks or legs.
Which lumbar back conditions can cause sciatic nerve pain?
A number of lumbar spine issues commonly cause sciatic issues. They include:
- Lumbar herniated discs
- Degenerative spondylolisthesis
- Lumbar spinal stenosis
- Lumbar degenerative disc disease
- Isthmic spondylolisthesis
What are some specific common foot pain issues that are caused by a lumbar back issue?
Heaviness or weakness in the feet (foot drop)
This symptom is characterized by difficulty or inability to flex the affected ankle to raise the front of the foot up. This foot drop issue usually originates from the L5 nerve root in the spine being compressed.
Difficulty when raising the foot (heel walk)
This condition is also characterized by an inability to move the affected foot up. This causes the foot to drag when walking. This symptom is often paired with numbness and/or pain in the lower leg and foot due to sciatic nerve compression.
Difficulty when walking on the tiptoes
This symptom is characterized by intense pain in the bottom of the foot that makes raising the heel and/or walking on the tiptoes nearly impossible. The weakness of the gastrocnemius calf muscle is also usually noted, making tasks like walking and driving very difficult. This condition occurs when the S1 spinal nerve root is compressed.
By now you should be able to give anyone who asks you “Can sciatica cause foot pain and swelling?” a confident answer. Do you know anyone who is suffering from some type of mysterious foot pain that seems to have no root cause? Have them set up an appointment with Fix24 Joint Biomechanics. We will find the root cause of any nagging injury and develop a rehabilitation program that will bring your body back to working order.
Do not hesitate to give us a call if you are suffering from any type of injury or have additional questions! It is always a better idea to start therapy sooner than later!