While there may be many causes of foot pain, it is important to note that not all foot pain originates in the toes or in the front or back of the foot, nor does it necessarily develop because of some injury or trauma to the foot.
What may come as a surprise is that many types of pain in the foot may have nothing to do with the foot or the leg, but rather a problem in the lower back.
However, patients that have foot pain due to a pinched nerve in the low back will generally have a good deal of leg pain associated with the foot pain. It would be very rare to have isolated foot pain due to a problem in the low back without any leg pain. Foot pain without associated leg pain is usually due to a problem localized to the foot itself.
For example, if a nerve root in the lower back is irritated or compressed, this low back condition, which may or may not cause any actual ow back pain, can cause pain to radiate along the sciatic nerve and into the foot.
Common Foot Pain Symptoms Related to the Lower Back
Depending on the lower back diagnosis, specific types of foot pain symptoms and other symptoms may include:
- Restricted ability to bring the foot up (heel walk). This specific symptom is characterized by an inability to bring the foot upward and may be accompanied by numbness in the middle lower leg and foot. Heel walk may occur if one of the spinal nerve roots in the lower back that innervates the sciatic nerve is affected.
- Foot heaviness or weakness (foot drop). Often originating from a spinal nerve root in the lower back, foot drop refers to a weak or heavy feeling that makes it difficult or impossible to flex the ankle and bring the front of the foot up. Foot drop due to a L5 nerve root problem will usually also produce pain that radiates down the outside of the calf and over the top of the foot to the big toe.
- Difficulty walking on tiptoes. Bottom of foot pain may occur if the sciatic nerve’s S1 spinal nerve root is affected. Typical symptoms of pain in the bottom of the foot may include weakness in the gastonemius muscle, making it hard to walk on the tiptoes, raise the heel off the ground, or even complete everyday activities like walking or driving.