Your Foot Pain Could be Caused By a Spine Issue

Foot pain can be a common issue with various causes, but did you know that it could also be related to problems in your spine? It may seem unlikely, but this pain can actually be directly connected to certain back issues, especially in the lower back. Even if you don’t experience significant lower back pain, leg or foot pain often originates from the lumbar region of the spine.

The most common causes of this pain are typically related to injuries, improper footwear, or physical problems within the foot itself, such as tendonitis, arthritis, or bursitis. However, there are also spinal conditions that can contribute to foot pain. Spinal nerves pass through the lower spine and travel down to the feet. If any of these nerves become irritated or compressed in the lower back, it can result in this type of pain.

Herniated Discs

When the intervertebral discs located between the vertebrae in the spine become damaged or slip out of place, pain can occur. The pain is not caused by the damaged disc itself, but rather by the fluid that leaks from the inner disc and irritates nearby nerves, leading to nerve root pain. This can cause pain to radiate down the leg or arm from the lower back.


The sciatic nerves, located in the lower spine, extend down into the thighs and toes. These nerves connect many leg and foot muscles to the spinal cord. If the sciatic nerve becomes irritated or inflamed, it can cause leg and foot pain, known as sciatica.


This condition occurs when a vertebra slips and falls over the one below it in the lower back. The slipped vertebra weakens the spine segment and compresses nearby nerves, resulting in pain that spreads down the leg and into the foot.


Arthritis is an inflammatory condition of the joints that can cause pain, tenderness, swelling, and stiffness. In response to joint instability, small bony growths called osteophytes may develop at the facet joints and vertebrae, causing spinal stenosis. This narrowing of the spinal canal can squeeze the nerves and lead to pain that radiates down to the foot or leg from the spine.

If you’re experiencing this type of pain along with leg pain or numbness, there’s a good chance it’s related to a condition in the lumbar region of your spine. Depending on the specific condition, these pain symptoms can include difficulty walking on tiptoes, numbness on the outer aspect of the foot, foot drop (weakness or heaviness that makes it challenging to flex the ankle and bring up the front of the foot), heel walk limitations, and leg cramps.

It’s important to note that this type of pain can also be caused by local foot conditions, such as plantar fasciitis, gouty arthritis, ankle joint issues, or other compressive neuropathies. A detailed clinical history and examination are crucial in determining the correct diagnosis.

If you’re experiencing persistent foot pain, it’s best to consult with a medical professional who can assess your symptoms and provide an accurate diagnosis and appropriate treatment options.

Read Also on the NSH Blog: Foot Orthotics and Lower Back Pain