Low Back Pain from old Ankle Injury?

by Andy
(Yorkshire, United Kingdom)

Hi, I have just come across this article and I have noticed that you describe pretty much all of my pain symptoms that I have had now for at least 7 years.

I suffer from extremely stiff and painful lower back, usually caused by my hips being out of align. I also suffer from constant buttock pain when sitting and pain on my coccyx.

I have for years seen many back specialists and had numerous scans, pain injections but nothing has helped or given me an idea of why I am in this pain.

Low Back Pain from old Ankle Injury? That's a valid question; but the probably damage to the spine from immobilisation arthritis demands daily exercise.

Years ago, way before my back pain, I broke my ankle in two places and was in plaster for a long period of time. After my plaster was off I was discharged without any further check-ups or physio. I used to play a lot of football and I would sprain my ankle damaging the ligaments nearly every year. Each time I did this my ankle swelled up and I was off my feet for a few weeks.

Sometimes I had to get a scan to check it was not broken again.

I have however never had any real check on soft tissues within my ankle until recently.

My ankle in more recent months is so week and gives way quite often, therefore I decided to see a specialist and i had some more scans and MUA of my ankle. The specialist has informed me that 2 out of the 3 main ligaments are either snapped or so stretched they are not performing at all, therefore I need to have surgery to correct this.

I am now booked in for a Modified Brostrum procedure in a week's time.

After reading this article I am wondering if this is all connected to my back/button pain? It sounds like it may well be. I am hoping it is as I would finally have an answer to this pain.

If it is, do you believe the surgery I am having on my ankle should help with my back pain?

What physio/rehab would I need to do after my surgery as I do not want to just leave my ankle to rest but not build its strength etc.?

Any information or help would be much appreciated.


Hello Andy,
Certainly anything that changes your gait can and will have a knock on effect on knees, hips and the sacroiliac joint above.

The first question I always ask with a chronically stiff, sore back, or any joint for that matter, is are you doing some simple basic exercises every morning? In bed before arising is what I recommend.

An ankle that functions better can only help your lower back and hips, but the damage there is done now, so you need to exercise that pelvis and lumbar spine.

Likewise, your ankle will be stiff when it comes out of the cast; ask the surgeon what the appropriate exercises are. I like our alphabet exercises, simple, basic and safe.

I hope this contributes.

Dr B

» Low Back Pain from old Ankle Injury?

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Interesting challenges of the day

1. Mr S is a 76 year old man with neck pain of some 9 months duration. Luckily, most of the discomfort is upper cervical which is only rarely arthritic; his lower cervical spine is a degenerative mess that I have left alone. After seven treatments his pain and stiffness is 50 percent better, and he is happy in the circumstances. He can sleep through the night now and that makes a huge difference.

2. Mr P is 32 year old man with very severe lower back pain radiating to the big toe which is 30 percent numb. He had an episode three weeks ago, took anti-inflammatories and was soon better as is typical of the medial disc herniation. But before it healed, after a trivia it came roaring back, much worse. The characteristic crossed sign was evident; sitting in a chair, straightening the right leg provoked severe left back pain and tingling in the leg. He is doing well.

3. Severe lower back pain is scary; just ask Mrs P. Just watching her get out of the car I she was in trouble; she had a slipped disc at L4 making her lean towards the opposite side; luckily she had no pain in the leg. Despite family pressure that this was far too severe for a chiropractor, she persevered. Within five days she was standing upright, and after two weeks almost pain-free. 

Despite a hectic job, she wisely took my advice and stayed home for what I call exercising bed rest.

4. Mr S has had lower back, groin and back of thigh and calf pain for fourth months.

He has a pincer deformity in the hip causing the stabs in the groin, and a degenerative facet causing the sciatica. Both are responding well to chiropractic and he is well pleased; sixty-five percent better after three treatments.

5. Mr T is a wise man; he has taken a warning TIA seriously and has lost 15 pounds, and has at least as much again to lose. A change to a low starch diet and half hour daily stroll has made the difference; but the walking is making his foot and back miserable. The expensive orthotic is hopeless; luckily his hips and back are fine, but he needs a simple heel lift; he has a short leg.

6. I too have had serious lower back issues, luckily fixed by my own chiropractor; so I too have to do my exercises, take care when lifting supers full of honey, gardening and using the chainsaw. Regaining the function of your spine is just as important as the pain.

7. My own granddaughter, only 7 is hypermobile giving her pelvic, knee and ankle issues. X-rays show a mildly dysplastic hip. Years ago we would have called it growing pains. She too regularly needs chiropractic care and luckily responds well. Increased range of motion is more difficult than too stiff in my opinion. Our care is for kids too.

8. This 65-year old lady is a serious gardener; every day she is bending, lifting and digging for 2 to 3 hours a day. It regularly catches her in the sacroiliac joint, so she has a treatment once a month that sorts it out. She does her lower back exercises faithfully.

9. This 88-year old lady is an inspiration; every day she is busy in the community. With a nasty scoliosis she manages very well with a chiropractic adjustment every six weeks and exercises faithfully done. 

10. Mr X is a 71-year old retired man who wants to continue with maintenance care every six to eight weeks; he had suffered from two years of lower back pain when he first came a few months ago. He has no discomfort now after 8 chiropractic treatments, but is aware that danger lurks.

11. Mrs C has been having severe headaches, and taking a lot of analgesics. It is a non-complicated upper cervical facet syndrome, and she is doing well.

12. Mr D is a 38-year old year man with chronic shoulder pain after a rotator cuff tear playing cricket. It responded well to treatment, but he knows he must do his exercises every day; for two years he could not sleep on that shoulder.

13. Mr D, a 71-year old man, has a severe ache in the shoulder and midback since working above his head. Trapped nerve tests are negative but he has advanced degenerative joints of Luschka; after just two treatments he is 50 percent better. Can we reach 90?

And so the day goes; chiropractors should not be treating the elderly most medical sites state but that is so much bunkum.

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