Your body is a web of connections. When you feel pain in one area, it may actually be due to a disease or injury in a different spot. Your knees and your back are another connection. So back pain, particularly lower back pain, requires a diagnosis and treatment with an experienced pain physician, such as the spine experts at the Southeastern Spine Institute (SSI).
The chain that links your knees and your back also connects your feet to your head. Lower back pain may actually start in your feet if, for example, you have an improper gait. Posture plays a significant role in knee and back pain, leading to a string of bad headaches that are seemingly unrelated to your leg or back discomfort. Wearing high heels can cause pain to radiate up through your knees to your back.
Common Causes of Leg and Back Pain
A change in the way you walk can have a profound impact on your feet, ankles, knees and lower back. When your gait is off-balance due to an injury or arthritis, the mechanics of your movements and the position of your bones and muscles lead to lower leg pain. That in turn causes your knee tendons to respond to the shifting weight, which then pulls on your upper legs and lower back.
Other conditions that tie your knees and your back pain together include:
- Herniated discs that pinch a nerve in your back that’s connected to your leg
- Muscle strain that’s often mistaken for a herniated disc, radiating pain from your knees to your back and vice versa
- Sciatica, which refers to pressure put on the sciatic nerve that runs from your lower back down through your legs, causing shooting pains behind one knee
- Bone spurs that develop on your lower spine, leading to nerve impingements
- Osteoarthritis in the knees, the leading contributor to disability in the United States, which causes lower back pain symptoms
Best Treatments for Your Knees and Your Back
Treatment for knee and back pain depends on the origination of your disease or injury. At SSI, the first line of defense following a firm diagnosis is conservative treatments, such as:
- I.C.E, which stands for: rest, ice, compression and elevation — each of these four techniques relieves both your knee pain and your lower back pain
- Over-the-counter pain relievers, which combat inflammation no matter where the pain originates
- Physical therapy to correct your gait or strengthen supporting muscles
- Corticosteroid injections in your knee to relieve the pain in your lower back too
- Lifestyle changes, such as weight loss and wearing appropriate shoes, for taking pressure off your knees while relieving lower back pain
More serious conditions may require minimally invasive interventions, such as:
- Nerve blocks, typically reserved for pain that originates in your spinal column
- Stem cell therapy to heal damaged discs that are causing radiating leg pain
- Trigger point injections, delivered directly to the body part that’s causing your pain
- Surgery, an option that’s reserved for when other methods of treatment don’t result in lasting pain relief
Your spine specialists at SSI work side-by-side with an entire group of pain doctors to choose the best treatments for you. Physical therapists on-site also work closely with your doctors to design preventive, restorative and recovery treatment plans. Allow the specialists at SSI to find the best solutions for your pain and treat you holistically. There’s usually a good chance that the pain in your knees and your back are related.