Short Leg Syndrome Treatment

Written by Dr. Steve Chaney on . Posted in short leg syndrome treatment

Is It Caused By Muscle Tension or Bone Length?

 

Author: Julie Donnelly, LMT – The Pain Relief Expert

Editor: Dr. Steve Chaney

Short Leg Syndrome is a condition where one leg is shorter than the other. This leg length discrepancy frequently causes a long list of aches and pains from the neck to the feet. However, is your leg actually shorter, or is it just pulled up into your pelvis and appearing to be shorter?

You need to have x-rays and measure the bones to prove that they are different lengths. If the bones prove to be the same length, then muscles are the cause and you can use the short leg syndrome treatment we will discuss  here.

I received a message from a concerned father about his son, a dedicated teenage athlete.  His son plays sports despite the pain in his tight hamstrings and having short leg syndrome. His message read:

My son has been suffering from tight hamstrings from the age of about 12. He played on regardless as he was an exceptional player and the team needed him. He was told by a physician to do stretching for his hamstrings, but it has persisted. We have noticed that one leg is shorter. He now plays football and does boxing and is very fit, but he is suffering very tight and sore hamstrings. The pain is lower on left and high near to the Gluteus Maximus on the right leg.

Why Muscles Can Cause Short Leg Syndrome

muscles can cause short leg syndromeShort leg syndrome commonly happens when the muscles that insert into the top of the thigh bone (femur) become tight. When the muscles go into a spasm (knot) or a contraction (shorten) they pull UP on the bone.

In the case of the psoas and iliacus muscles, they will be pulling the thigh bone up toward the pelvis.

The tension in these two muscles not only cause short leg syndrome but a list of other conditions.  You may also have a pelvis rotation which causes overstretched hamstrings, sciatica, groin pain, knee pain, and low back pain.

It gets complicated because the pelvis rotation causes one of the thigh muscles to shorten pulling your pelvis DOWN in the front. While all this is happening, your thigh bone is being pulled UP, giving the symptoms of short leg syndrome.

Meanwhile, muscles in the back of your body are having to compensate for the pelvis rotation. Which brings me to the gluteus maximus, the thick and strong muscle of your butt.  This muscle also inserts into the top of your thigh bone. When the gluteus maximus is tight, it pulls up on the thigh bone, drawing it toward your pelvis. gluteus maximusAnother cause for the appearance of short leg syndrome.

The three gluteal muscles all insert into the top of your thigh bone and pull it up toward the pelvis.

This action is required in order to walk. However, when any of the muscles are in spasm, they pull your thigh bone toward the pelvis.

The last muscle we’ll discuss that causes the symptoms of short leg syndrome is the tensor fascia lata. This muscle goes from the outside of your pelvis and inserts into the top of your thigh bone. The tendon, called the iliotibial band (ITB), continues down and inserts into the outside of your knee.

Since the tensor fascia lata inserts into the top of your thigh bone it can cause short leg syndrome.

tensor fascia lataThe tensor fascia lata muscle merges into your ITB and inserts into your knee. When it is shortened by a spasm, you will feel tight along the outside of your thigh. Many people complain about a tight ITB and rub their leg, but it’s really the tensor fascia lata muscle that is in spasm.

Your tensor fascia lata muscle needs to be released to stop knee pain, hip pain, and short leg syndrome.

Are The Hamstrings Involved In Short Leg Syndrome?

short leg syndrome treatment hamstringsNo, not really.   Although, the pelvis rotation is involved in hamstring pain.  As your pelvis is going down in the front and up in the back, it will cause your hamstrings to overstretch.

It is easy to imagine what would happen if the hamstrings were being overstretched. Pain is felt at the top of the muscle, along the bone, and also behind the knee.

Stretching or treating the spasms that are common in hamstrings, would be a potential cause for further injury.

The hamstrings should always be treated last to prevent the muscle fibers from stretching further.

 Short Leg Syndrome Treatment Made Easy

As I mentioned, there are many muscles involved in short leg syndrome treatment. For the sake of time and length, this blog will only support one treatment. However, this treatment is important and it will give benefits to other problems, including short leg syndrome.

pain free living book for saleAn easy self-treatment is to lie on a ball. You can also do this standing up and leaning into a wall.

In my book, Treat Yourself to Pain Free Living, I teach how to treat all the muscles involved in short leg syndrome.

Short leg syndrome is a term to describe the problem, but the source of the pain is often overlooked.  It will benefit you to explore the muscle involvement before you opt for expensive orthotics or medical treatments.

julie donnellyWishing you well,

Julie Donnelly

 

 

About The Author

Julie Donnelly is a Deep Muscle Massage Therapist with 20 years of experience specializing in the treatment of chronic joint pain and sports injuries. She has worked extensively with elite athletes and patients who have been unsuccessful at finding relief through the more conventional therapies.

She has been widely published, both on – and off – line, in magazines, newsletters, and newspapers around the country. She is also often chosen to speak at national conventions, medical schools, and health facilities nationwide.

These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. This information is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease.

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Comments (1)

  • Denis Becker

    |

    My chiroppractor always checks for a short leg. He does atlas orthogonal chiro which looks first at the position of the atlas vertabra which supports the head. If that bone is not correct, the whole spinal system has to compensate with a tipped hip and one leg appearing shorter. Treatment is unbelievable gentle, no jerking or twisting, and relief is usually instantaneous or has been in my cases. Following treatment he pchecks leg length again to verify his success. I have enjoyed Julie’s articles and would certainly seek treatment from her if closer and am certain she would be greatly interested in this type of treatment too. The concept warrants more investigation and maybe a health talks article.

    His website is drsaggau.com then service for details of OA concepts

    Thanks for your good work. The articles you send out are phenomenal.

    Reply

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Latest Article

Can Plant-based Diets Be Unhealthy?

Posted September 10, 2019 by Dr. Steve Chaney

Do Plant-Based Diets Reduce Heart Disease Deaths?

Author: Dr. Stephen Chaney

 

plant-based diets vegetablesPlant-based diets have become the “Golden Boys” of the diet world. They are the diets most often recommended by knowledgeable health and nutrition professionals. I’m not talking about all the “Dr. Strangeloves” who pitch weird diets in books and the internet. I am talking legitimate experts who have spent their life studying the impact of nutrition on our health.

Certainly, there is an overwhelming body of evidence supporting the claim that plant-based diets are healthy. Going on a plant-based diet can help you lower blood pressure, inflammation, cholesterol and triglycerides. People who consume a plant-based diet for a lifetime weigh less and have decreased risk of heart disease, diabetes, and cancer.

But, can a plant-based diet be unhealthy? Some people consider a plant-based diet to simply be the absence of meat and other animal foods. Is just replacing animal foods with plant-based foods enough to make a diet healthy?

Maybe not. After all, sugar and white flour are plant-based food ingredients. Fake meats of all kinds abound in our grocery stores. Some are very wholesome, but others are little more than vegetarian junk food. If you replace animal foods with plant-based sweets, desserts, and junk food, is your diet really healthier?

While the answer to that question seems obvious, very few studies have asked that question. Most studies on the benefits of plant-based diets have compared population groups that eat a strictly plant-based diet (Seventh-Day Adventists, vegans, or vegetarians) with the general public. They have not looked at variations in plant food consumption within the general public. Nor have they compared people who consume healthy and unhealthy plant foods.

This study (H Kim et al, Journal of the American Heart Association, 8:e012865, 2019) was designed to fill that void.

 

How Was The Study Done?

plant-based diets studyThis study used data collected from 12,168 middle aged adults in the ARIC (Atherosclerosis Risk in Communities) study between 1987 and 2016.

The participant’s usual intake of foods and beverages was assessed by trained interviewers using a food frequency questionnaire at the time of entry into the study and again 6 years later.

Participants were asked to indicate the frequency with which they consumed 66 foods and beverages of a defined serving size in the previous year. Visual guides were provided to help participants estimate portion sizes.

The participant’s adherence to a plant-based diet was assessed using four different well-established plant-based diet scores. For the sake of simplicity, I will include 3 of them in this review.

  • The PDI (Plant-Based Diet Index) categorizes foods as either plant foods or animal foods. A high PDI score means that the participant’s diet contains more plant foods than animal foods. A low PDI score means the participant’s diet contains more animal foods than plant foods.
  • The hPDI (healthy plant-based diet index) is based on the PDI but emphasizes “healthy” plant foods. A high hPDI score means that the participant’s diet is high in healthy plant foods (whole grains, fruits, vegetables, nuts, legumes, coffee and tea) and low in animal foods.
  • The uPDI (unhealthy plant-based diet index) is based on the PDI but emphasizes “unhealthy” plant foods. A high uPDI score means that the participant’s diet is high in unhealthy plant foods (refined grains, fruit juices, French fries and chips, sugar sweetened and artificially sweetened beverages, sweets and desserts) and low in animal foods.

For statistical analysis the scores from the various plant-based diet indices were divided into 5 equal groups. In each case, the group with the highest score consumed the most plant foods and least animal foods. The group with the lowest score consumed the least plant foods and the most animal foods.

The health outcomes measured in this study were heart disease events, heart disease deaths, and all-cause deaths. Again, for the sake of simplicity, I will only include 2 of these outcomes (heart disease deaths and all-cause deaths) in this review. The data on deaths were obtained from state death records and the National Death Index. (Yes, your personal information is available on the web even after you die.)

 

Do Plant-Based Diets Reduce Heart Disease Deaths?

plant-based diets reduce heart deathsThe participants in this study were followed for an average of 25 years.

The investigators looked at heart disease deaths over the 25 years and compared people with the highest intake of plant foods to people with the highest intake of red meat and other animal foods. The results were:

  • People with the highest intake of plant foods and the highest intake of healthy plant foods (whole grains, fruits, vegetables, nuts, legumes, coffee and tea) had a 19-32% lower risk of dying from heart disease than people with the highest intake of red meat and other animal foods.
  • People with the highest intake of unhealthy plant foods (refined grains, fruit juices, French fries and chips, sugar sweetened and artificially sweetened beverages, sweets and desserts) had the same risk of dying from heart disease as people with the highest intake of red meat and other animal foods.

When the investigators looked at all-cause deaths over the 25 years:

  • People with the highest intake of plant foods and the highest intake of healthy plant foods had an 11-25% lower risk of dying from any cause than people with the highest intake of red meat and other animal foods.
  • People with the highest intake of unhealthy plant foods had the same risk of dying from heart disease as people with the highest intake of red meat and other animal foods.

What Else Did The Study Show?

The investigators made a couple of other interesting observations:

  • The association of the overall diet with heart disease and all-cause deaths was stronger than the association of individual food components. This underscores the importance of looking at the effect of the whole diet on health outcomes rather than the “magic” foods you hear about on Dr. Strangelove’s Health Blog.
  • Diets with the highest amount of healthy plant foods were associated with higher intake of carbohydrates, plant protein, fiber, and micronutrients, including potassium, magnesium, iron, vitamin A, vitamin C, folate, and lower intake of saturated fat and cholesterol.
  • Diets with the highest amount of unhealthy plant foods were associated with higher intake of calories and carbohydrates and lower intake of fiber and micronutrients.

The last two observations may help explain some of the health benefits of plant-based diets.

 

Can Plant-Based Diets Be Unhealthy?

plant-based diets unhealthy cookiesNow, let’s return to the question I asked at the beginning of this article: “Can plant-based diets be unhealthy?” Although some previous studies have suggested that unhealthy plant-based diets might increase the risk of heart disease, this study did not show that.

What this study did show was that an unhealthy plant-based diet was no better for you than a diet containing lots of red meat and other animal foods.

If this were the only conclusion from this study, it might be considered a neutral result. However, this result clearly contrasts with the data from this study and many others showing that both plant-based diets in general and healthy plant-based diets reduce the risk of heart disease deaths and all-cause deaths compared to animal-based diets.

The main message from this study is clear.

  • Replacing red meat and other animal foods with plant foods can be a healthier choice, but only if they are whole, minimally processed plant foods like whole grains, fruits, vegetables, nuts, legumes, coffee and tea.
  • If the plant foods are refined grains, fruit juices, French fries and chips, sugar sweetened and artificially sweetened beverages, sweets and desserts, all bets are off. You may be just as unhealthy as if you kept eating a diet high in red meat and other animal foods.

There is one other subtle message from this study. This study did not compare vegans with the general public. Everyone in the study was the general public. Nobody in the study was consuming a 100% plant-based diet.

For example:

  • The group with the highest intake of plant foods consumed 9 servings per day of plant foods and 3.6 servings per day of animal foods.
  • The group with the lowest intake of plant foods consumed 5.4 servings per day of plant foods and 5.6 servings per day of animal foods.

In other words, you don’t need to be a vegan purist to experience health benefits from adding more whole, minimally processed plant foods to your diet.

 

The Bottom Line

A recent study analyzed the effect of consuming plant foods on heart disease deaths and all-cause deaths over a 25-year period.

When the investigators looked at heart disease deaths over the 25 years:

  • People with the highest intake of plant foods and the highest intake of healthy plant foods had a 19-32% lower risk of dying from heart disease than people with the highest intake of red meat and other animal foods.
  • People with the highest intake of unhealthy plant foods had the same risk of dying from heart disease as people with the highest intake of red meat and other animal foods.

When the investigators looked at all-cause deaths over the 25 years:

  • People with the highest intake of plant foods and the highest intake of healthy plant foods had an 11-25% lower risk of dying from any cause than people with the highest intake of red meat and other animal foods.
  • People with the highest intake of unhealthy plant foods had the same risk of dying from heart disease as people with the highest intake of red meat and other animal foods.

The main message from this study is clear.

  • Replacing red meat and other animal foods with plant foods can be a healthier choice, but only if they are whole, minimally processed plant foods like whole grains, fruits, vegetables, nuts, legumes, coffee and tea.
  • If the plant foods are refined grains, fruit juices, French fries and chips, sugar sweetened and artificially sweetened beverages, sweets and desserts, all bets are off. You may be just as unhealthy as if you kept eating a diet high in red meat and other animal foods.

A more subtle message from the study is that you don’t need to be a vegan purist to experience health benefits from adding more whole, minimally processed plant foods to your diet. The people in this study were not following some special diet. The only difference was that some of the people in this study ate more plant foods and others more animal foods.

For more details on the study, read the article above.

 

These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. This information is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease.

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