While the use of foot orthotics was found to be effective in treating lower back pain, researchers in the United Kingdom found that the main influence on this outcome was the consultation process and a patient-focused approach. What the researchers are calling a “psychologically informed practice” helped foster mutual understanding, and a verbal and visual explanation reassured the patient and thus influenced their beliefs, their engagement with the foot orthotics (physical), and their experience of lower back pain (psychological).
Because the efficacy of foot orthotics has focused primarily on correcting the associated altered lower-limb biomechanics, the researchers intended to explore patients’ experience with foot orthotics and to evaluate any associated changes in their back pain. For the study, 25 participants with nonspecific lower back pain associated with altered lower-limb biomechanics were provided with customized foot orthotics. After 16 weeks, conversational style interviews were carried out with each patient, using an interpretivistic phenomenological approach for data collection and analysis.
According to the study abstract, aside from physical causes of nonspecific lower back pain, psychological factors can be predictors of the condition becoming chronic.
The study was published May 7, 2013, in the Journal of Foot and Ankle Research.