Long-Term Association of Plantar Fasciitis And Back Pain

A runner with one shoe removed sits on the ground and grimaces in pain from plantar fasciitis while holding the afflicted foot.

Plantar fasciitis is a very common condition afflicting the foot that one out of every 10 people will experience at some point in their lives. It affects as many as 2 million people every year in the U.S. While it is more common in runners and athletes, it can affect anyone, even if they are sedentary. 

Back pain is another common condition that millions of Americans experience every year. In fact, back pain is such a broad and pervasive condition that about 84% of all adults will experience back pain at some point in their lives. What many may not realize is that there is a correlation between plantar fasciitis and back pain. This article will review the two, how one may cause or reinforce the other, and provide a list of treatments to help you heal faster and get back to doing the things you love. 

What is Plantar Fasciitis?

Plantar fasciitis is an inflammation of a ligament in the foot called the plantar fascia. The plantar fascia is a thick band of tissue that connects your heel to the ball of your feet and toes and acts as a support for the arch of your foot, absorbing shock from movement. 

Plantar fasciitis is the most common cause of heel pain, and while many may think of it as an athletic injury, it can affect anybody. It occurs when the plantar fascia is overused or overstretched and becomes irritated or inflamed, making it painful and difficult to walk or stand. 

Some of the most common causes and symptoms of plantar fasciitis are listed below.

Causes of Plantar Fasciitis Symptoms of Plantar Fasciitis
  • Repetitive use or overuse of the foot muscles
  • Postural issues
  • Bearing excessive weight
  • Playing sports
  • Running
  • Working or exercising on hard surfaces
  • Being barefoot on hard surfaces for extended periods
  • Wearing improperly fitting footwear
  • Wearing improperly fitting footwear
  • Leg asymmetry
  • Severe pain in the heel and/or arch of the foot
  • Stiffness in the foot
  • Swelling around the heel
  • A tight feeling in the Achilles tendon

Symptoms of plantar fasciitis such as pain can wane in intensity and increase when sudden force is applied to the foot such as when standing up or walking downstairs. Symptoms can lessen during periods of inactivity but flare up when you are in motion.

Because both the back and feet share many similar responsibilities in locomotion, there is a correlation between plantar fasciitis and back pain.          

The Link Between Plantar Fasciitis and Back Pain

While there is no direct link between plantar fasciitis and back pain, they can cause and exacerbate one another. This is because foot-related conditions aren’t isolated to the foot; they also affect the lower back. Because the lower back and feet both bear pressure and weight from the body, foot-related conditions such as plantar fasciitis can affect the lumbar spine, or lower back, by:

  • Changing gait or posture. When dealing with plantar fasciitis, we may adjust the way that we walk, stand, or sit to compensate for the pain we are experiencing in the foot. This can create excessive, uneven pressure to be applied to other parts of the body
  • Leading to other issues such as hip, knee, and SI joint problems. Because of the uneven pressure, the joints in the hips, knees, back, and pelvis can receive excessive amounts of stress that can cause them to become inflamed. 
  • Leading to arthritis and muscle imbalance in the back. The inflammation of these joints can cause arthritis to develop, which can create long-term problems. Also, because of the uneven weight distribution, the muscles in certain regions of the lower body may develop disproportionately.

All of the above factors can be detrimental to the health of people dealing with plantar fasciitis. More alarmingly, if left untreated, these issues can lead to structural problems such as disc herniations and sciatica later in life.

Conversely, issues with the lower back can also contribute to or worsen plantar fasciitis. Because people dealing with back pain are much more likely to have postural problems, they are more prone to shifting their weight unevenly between the feet. This can damage the plantar fascia in the foot bearing the brunt of their weight, increasing the risk of plantar fasciitis.

While plantar fasciitis and back pain can both be hugely detrimental to your quality of life, there are a variety of treatments at your disposal that can help you manage or resolve symptoms entirely. 

Treatments for Plantar Fasciitis and Back Pain

Treatments for plantar fasciitis and back pain will depend upon the severity of the conditions. There are several treatments for acute plantar fasciitis and back pain.

Treatments for Plantar Fasciitis Treatments for Back Pain
  • Rest
  • Stretches
  • Heat application
  • Toe spreaders
  • Orthotics
  • Wearing shoes with arch support and wider toe boxes
  • Rest
  • Stretches and exercise
  • Heat application
  • Ice
  • Massage
  • Inversion table

These treatments can provide short-term relief for acute symptoms. However, if symptoms persist, it may be time to look at more effective, long-term treatment options. Because of the roles spinal alignment and posture play in distributing weight across your body, chiropractic care could remedy both your plantar fasciitis and back pain.

Chiropractic care works by dealing with alignment and postural issues that can throw off weight-bearing, treating both the foot and spine. It also utilizes various stretches and muscle manipulation to relieve pain.

Chiropractic care is effective because it:

  • Restores proper spinal curvature and posture
  • Improves weight distribution
  • Reduces stress on the feet
  • Reduces the risk of future injury

Plantar fasciitis can take months to heal on its own. Adding chiropractic care to your treatments can significantly boost recovery time while also helping to mitigate pain. 

However, this will only be truly effective long-term if the root cause of pain is addressed.

How Chiropractic BioPhysics® From PostureWorks Gets You Back on Your Feet

Whether or not you’re an athlete, plantar fasciitis can keep you sidelined when there are things to do. Because of the relationship between plantar fasciitis and back pain, postural improvements and proper spinal alignment play a huge part in preventing symptoms. However, every person’s spine and its ideal curvature are unique.

That’s why at PostureWorks, we use Chiropractic BioPhysics® to comprehensively assess your medical history and unique spinal curvature to develop a fully customized treatment plan. That way, you can get back on your feet without worrying about recurring symptoms.

Contact us today to learn more about plantar fasciitis and back pain or to schedule your appointment with PostureWorks.

Chiropractic BioPhysics®, or CBP, is a deeply researched and results-oriented corrective care technique. CBP-trained chiropractors aim to realign the spine to health and optimal function. As with all chiropractic care, CBP is conservative, painless, and non-invasive.

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