Why your back, hip and knee pain could be coming from your feet.
This week yet another patient presented to clinic with something they could have done something about a long time ago. This time it’s more serious. Unfortunately this time surgery is the next option and there are no guarantees that it will work. The degenerative change in his hip joint has progressed too far for conservative management. Now it’s time for a hip replacement – at only 46 years old.
Most people experience episodes of pain throughout their lives. Typically it is short lived and passes after some rest or treatment. Often in clinic we see people who have had complaints for a long time and haven’t decided that it was problematic enough, before now.
The trouble is we don’t have a crystal ball that looks towards the future and tells us what is going to happen. However, our bodies do have a subtle way of letting you know that things aren’t going well and most probably won’t end as well as we had hoped. Have you been listening?
Pain generally is the indicator for what we call somatic-dysfunction (the indication of pathology), and I want to share a simple analogy I use often in clinic. It’s of a multi-storey building that needs some repairs because a crack is appearing on the 4th floor. The paint has chipped and now the damage is obvious.
The typical approach is patch up the crack and give it a coat of paint. This gives the cosmetic appearance that all is well however we know that nothing has actually been solved. (Sounds like medication to me).
The correct approach involves looking at the structures that stabilise the building called the footings. In the human body this is even more important. You see, so many mechanical causes of pain have a functional relationship to the way your feet are both structured and function.
Take a look at the picture. It shows how simple pronation of the foot can affect the position and alignment of the knee and hip. More importantly this can cause even further mechanical pain up the spine all the way to your neck.
Please note that pronation (flat feet) is not the only cause of structural alignment problems. High arches could also cause a variety of complaints.
Sound familiar? Paint brushes and pain medication are they ready?
I have been successfully using gait-scan technology to assess in real time the function of your feet whilst walking, for over 3 years. In that time I have been able to successfully manage a range of painful syndromes using custom prescription Orthotics (insoles for your shoes that correct foot alignment).
Importantly not every one needs custom orthotics. In fact I find less than 15% of people I scan actually need Orthotics to relieve their symptoms. Other methods like massage, stretching and manipulation often prove effective.
So are you noticing the cracks? Are your joints niggling, or are your knees tiring and your hips aching. Does walking aggravate your pain, and cause generalised tiredness and tightness through your back, knees or hips? Do your children complain of vague pains?
You could wait until the cracks are so large that even patching it up doesn’t work or you could find out the cause today and be thanking me for some years in the future.
The choice is yours.
Dr Themos Gourlas Osteopath