Can flat feet cause sciatica? In short, yes.
Sciatica is a condition characterized by pain that radiates along the path of the sciatic nerve, which runs from the lower back down through the buttock and leg. Flat feet, also known as fallen arches, can alter the alignment of the body, which may potentially lead to sciatica.
When you have flat feet, your arch collapses that can make your foot roll inward and cause overpronation. This change in foot position can rotate your lower leg inward as well, altering the alignment of your knee, hip, and lower back. This altered alignment can potentially cause compression or irritation of the sciatic nerve and lead to the development of sciatica.
However, do remember that not all cases of flat feet lead to sciatica. Many people with flat feet do not experience any symptoms, while others may have different types of pain or discomfort. Additionally, other factors such as poor posture, spinal stenosis, herniated discs, or degenerative disc disease can also contribute to the development of sciatica.
How does this happen?
The foot arch can adapt to different surfaces and work as a shock absorber but your flat feet can irritate your sciatic nerves and you are most likely to suffer from sciatica.
Flat feet is a common health condition affecting approximately 20-30% of the global population. As said before, while not everyone with flat feet will get sciatica, those with a severe or underdeveloped arch are more likely to have it.
Moreover, if your feet have a disproportionate effect on your skeletal framework and if they are out of alignment, this will throw your entire skeletal framework out of sync, from your ankles, hips, lower back, and onto your spine, shoulders and neck.
Research has shown that there are a few different factors that can contribute to flat feet like a) genetics, b) footwear issues, c) weakness of the foot muscle, d) gluteal weakness, e) squeezed curves and restricted ankles, and f) injury or obesity.
There are different types of treatment available for sciatica caused by flat feet, stay with us to know more
Reason to Develop Flat Feet and Ways to Deal with It
Flat feet are the absence of a visible arch in the foot when standing or walking. Instead, the entire sole is in contact with the ground.
You can easily identify flat feet by following these:
- Footprints: When you step out of the shower or pool and the entire sole is visible on the surface, this indicates you have flat feet.
- Pain or discomfort: If you have any of these symptoms, such as pain in your feet, ankles, or knees, or discomfort in your hips and lower back, you most likely have flat feet.
- Genetics: Ehlers-Danlos syndrome and Marfan syndrome are two genetic conditions that can cause laxity in the ligaments and tendons that support the arch of the foot. This can result in flat feet and other foot-related issues
- Footwear issues: Wearing inappropriate footwear contributes significantly to the development of flat feet. Shoes with inadequate arch support or that are too tight in the toe box with high heels can cause the arch to flatten
- Weakness of the foot muscle: If our intrinsic and extrinsic foot muscles become weak or unresponsive, we lose our foot arch to balance our body weight, resulting in flat feet
- Gluteal weakness: When the gluteal muscles are weak, the thigh bone rotates internally, causing the knee to dive inward, causing the foot to over-rotate and collapse the arch
- Squeezed curves and restricted ankles: The arch acts like a spring and saves energy when you are running, but the arch strength must be equal to the total power of the calves and ankles, or the arch will flatten excessively
- Injury or obesity: Being overweight or having an accident can increase the risk of arch damage or flattening
- When newborns begin to stand at the age of six, their genetically flatten feet naturally begin to develop an arch.
- Children who wear barefoot sandals or move around barefoot are less likely to have flat feet than children who wear shoes. To avoid high heels or fancy shoes, spend as much time as possible barefoot or in barefoot sandals…
- Foot muscles such as the Abductor hallucis, Abductor digit minimi, and Tubialis posterior have been found to play an important role in arch stability.
- Improving ankle mobility and reducing clavicle tightness can help to develop the arch and strengthen the foot muscles.
- Gluteal strengthening exercises combined with foot strengthening exercises are far more effective at arch correction.
- Maintaining weight and avoiding major foot injuries are also options for avoiding flat feet.
- Orthotics: Custom shoes or heel inserts are used to treat lower skeletal issues. They can be used alone or as part of a larger treatment plan. However, you should keep in mind that store-bought shoes are not orthotics.
- Physical therapy: Therapists recommend flat foot workout to people who have severe back pain. It is critical to attend sessions on how to perform these exercises rather than starting on your own.