What Causes Pain To Stretch From Your Foot To Your Back?

May 10, 2024

Quick Takeaways:

  1. Back and Foot Pain Connection: Your foot pain could actually be coming from your back due to the way nerves connect these areas.
  2. Signs to Watch For: If your foot hurts, feels weak, or numb, especially after a back injury, it might be linked to your spine.
  3. Common Causes: Problems like sciatica, slipped discs, or spinal narrowing could be the culprits behind your back and foot pain.

As the central support structure in the human body, the spine not only allows for upright balance, flexibility, and mobility but also connects the various musculoskeletal systems. The spinal cord, the primary column of nerves that connects the brain with other parts of the body, is protected by the spine, and nerves branching out from it innervate various limbs. The lumbar spinal nerves, which branch out from the lower back, create a direct pathway between the back, legs, and feet. This is why, though your back and feet may seem to be entirely unrelated, the underlying cause of certain types of foot pain actually originates in the lower back.

If you suffer from chronic lower back pain or have sustained a recent trauma or injury involving your lower back, hip, or thigh, it’s essential to consider that any new or unusual foot pain may be linked to nerves originating in the spine. This is particularly true of foot or lower leg pain accompanied by numbness/tingling and/or weakness. While foot-to-back pain often involves the sciatic nerve, a long nerve that runs from the lower back through the hips, legs, and feet, it may also involve a wide array of other nerves and structures. Proper diagnosis and treatment are key.

At New Jersey Spine Institute, our world-class spine surgeons have extensive experience diagnosing and treating even the most complex cases of nerve-related foot pain. For a personalized treatment plan that will put you on the fastest road to recovery, contact our clinic today to book an appointment!

Symptoms of Foot Pain Caused by Spinal Problems

Foot pain can occur for a wide spectrum of reasons ranging from ill-fitting shoes to repetitive impact to genetic deformities, but foot pain caused by spinal problems is often distinguishable based on certain general characteristics. These may include:

  • Pain that only impacts one foot and is accompanied by numbness and/or weakness in the foot, lower leg, thigh, or buttock.
  • Foot pain that begins shortly after an injury, trauma, or medical procedure involving the hip or lower back.
  • Foot pain that is associated with chronic back pain.


In addition to these indicators, there are also some specific symptoms to be aware of, which may include:

Difficulty Walking on Tip-Toes

If you are experiencing difficulty raising your heel to stand or walk on your tip-toes, the culprit may be the sciatic nerve. The sciatic nerve root affects the calf muscle and can make tip-toe walking, as well as many other everyday activities, a challenge.

Foot Drop

Foot drop can be a sign of certain neurological conditions, but may also be caused by compromised lumbar spinal nerves that run through the lower leg and foot. It is characterized by difficulty lifting the front portion of the foot, which may drag on the ground when walking.

Heel Walk

Like difficulty walking on the tip-toes, heel walk is also often associated with conditions involving the sciatic nerve. Patients experiencing heel walk have difficulty lifting the foot upward and bringing it forward. This can have a major impact on mobility and may also be accompanied by numbness in the lower leg and/or foot.

Which Conditions Cause Back-to-Foot Pain?

Numerous conditions can involve back-to-foot pain. Some of the most common are outlined below:


Sometimes referred to as a “pinched nerve”, sciatica is not a diagnosis in and of itself. It describes symptoms involving a compromised sciatic nerve, but not their underlying cause. Common causes of sciatica can include a herniated disc in the lumbar spine, degenerative disc disease, lumbar spinal stenosis, and more (see below).

Sciatica is characterized by pain, numbness, tingling, weakness, slow reflexes, and/or muscle spasms in the legs and feet. It often responds to conservative treatment options including physical therapy, pain medications, and physical activity modifications, but surgery may also be recommended in more severe cases.

If you are seeking superior sciatica treatment in New Jersey, contact the exceptional surgical team at New Jersey Spine Institute to book an appointment.


Herniated Disc

Spinal discs are located between the vertebrae and allow for flexibility in the back. They are responsible for absorbing shocks and providing cushioning for the spine. Composed of a rubbery outer layer filled with gel-like fluid, they can bulge or even rupture and lose fluid as the result of injury, repetitive strain, or deterioration over time. This is known as a herniation and can result in disc material entering the spinal canal, which can cause nerve irritation and result in intense pain in the back, legs, and/or feet.

If you are experiencing pain, numbness, tingling, or muscle weakness in the legs or feet, a herniated disc may be at the root of your discomfort. Seek herniated disc treatment in New Jersey with the experienced surgeons at New Jersey Spine Institute.

Spinal Stenosis

Spinal stenosis is characterized by the narrowing of the spinal canal, which exerts pressure on the nerve roots of the spine. When it occurs in the lumbar spine (lower back), pain and discomfort in the legs and feet may result.

Lumbar spinal stenosis is most common in patients over the age of 50 but can also be hereditary or occur due to injury or trauma. The condition is usually present in combination with other spinal issues and may be difficult to diagnose without imaging tests, since its symptoms are similar to those of several other lumbar spinal nerve conditions. Whether mild or severe, the proper treatment of foot pain associated with spinal stenosis is vital.

For leading spinal stenosis treatment in New Jersey, call New Jersey Spine Institute today!

Degenerative Disc Disease

When intervertebral discs begin to break down or deteriorate due to spinal trauma, repetitive stress, or normal wear and tear over time, this is known as degenerative disc disease. Discs that are degenerating are more susceptible to becoming herniated discs and can cause pain that extends along the nerves located nearest them.

Seeing degenerative disc disease treatment in New Jersey? Receive personalized treatment from a board-certified spine surgeon at New Jersey Spine Institute!


Suffering Through Back and Foot Pain? Visit New Jersey Spine Institute

If you are living with painful symptoms in your feet or legs that you believe may be connected to pinched nerves or other issues in your spine, it’s time to seek treatment and move forward on the path to recovery. From state-of-the-art surgeries to minimally invasive treatments, the leading doctors at New Jersey Spine Institute are ready to tailor a treatment plan to your exact needs and circumstances. Call us today to book an appointment!

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