STUDY IDENTIFIES UNTREATED FOOT AND ANKLE PROBLEMS AS MAJOR CULPRIT OF CHRONIC LOWER BACK PAIN
Common Podiatric Treatment Promises a Cure for Millions of Sufferers
Washington, DC- A new study released this week in the Journal of the American Podiatric Medical Association reveals untreated foot and ankle problems may be the source of chronic lower back pain for millions of Americans. Furthermore, findings of this groundbreaking study demonstrate that the use of a common treatment for correcting such problems may lead to a cure for many sufferers of this debilitating condition.
The legs and lower back operate as one fluid unit -- unimpeded, normal walking motion exerts minimal, if no, strain on the lower back. According to this two-year study, foot and ankle problems restrict or alter normal walking motion, causing a repetitive strain on the lower back. If ignored, this strain, over time, leads to severe lower back muscle damage and resulting pain.
The study's authors, Dr. Howard J. Dananberg and Dr. Michelle Guiliano, both podiatrists, found the use of custom-made foot orthoses, commonly prescribed shoe inserts, can adjust the patient's damage-causing walk, allowing a more even distribution of weight which restores an unhampered flow of motion.
Over ten million Americans suffer from chronic lower back pain -- millions more have acute recurrent episodes. Seventy percent of those who seek treatment from traditional methods including spinal manipulation, physical therapy, therapeutic injections and surgery experience a recurrence of pain within one year of treatment. The New England Journal of Medicine estimates the cost of treating lower back pain in the tens of billions of dollars in the United States alone.
"This study identifies the nature of a person's walk as a source of chronic lower back pain," states Dr. Dananberg. "It makes perfect sense to focus treatment at the source of the injury. We are hopeful that we can now effectively treat and finally cure the pain of literally millions of people."
Prior to entering the Dananberg/Guiliano study, subjects found traditional methods of treatment unsuccessful. Yet, at the conclusion of the foot orthotics treatment, subjects reported experiencing a sixty-eight percent improvement in pain reduction. In a direct comparison to a study of traditional back pain treatments, using the same scale, Dananberg/Guiliano study participants experienced more than a fifty percent improvement in alleviation of pain, over a much longer duration.
The amount of pain a patient suffered was measured in the study using a questionnaire called the Quebec Back Pain Disability Scale. The scale measures the severity of pain the patient experiences Through a series of questions, the patient assigns a degree of pain on a scale from one to five, generating a mean pain score. The questionnaire is answered three times; once, at the initial examination, the second time three months after treatment, and the last time twelve to twenty-four months after treatment.