Could Your Foot Pain Be Caused by a Problem in Your Spine?

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.

See Foot Pain Causes and Treatments

Certain nerves in the spine lead down to the foot. Read more about Living with Lumbar Spinal Stenosis.

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.

Watch: Sciatica Animated Video

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.

See Foot Pain Symptoms

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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:

Lumbar Spine Anatomy Vertebrae L1 through L5The type of pain you feel depends on which nerve is affected.
Lumbar Spine Anatomy Video

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.

See All About the L3-L4 Spinal Segment

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.

See Finding the Right Spine Specialist

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.

Learn more:

Spinal Stenosis Treatment

Foot Orthotics for Chronic Low Back Pain

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