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

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    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

Is Our Microbiome Affected By Exercise?

Posted November 6, 2018 by Dr. Steve Chaney

Microbiome Mysteries

Author: Dr. Stephen Chaney

is our microbiome affected by exerciseIn a recent post,  What is Your Microbiome and Why is it Important,  of “Health Tips From The Professor” I outlined how our microbiome, especially the bacteria that reside in our intestine, influences our health. That influence can be either good or bad depending on which species of bacteria populate our gut. I also discussed how the species of bacteria that populate our gut are influenced by what we eat and, in turn, influence how the foods we eat are metabolized.

I shared that there is an association between obesity and the species of bacteria that inhabit our gut. At present, this is a “chicken and egg” conundrum. We don’t know whether obesity influences the species of bacteria that inhabit our gut, or whether certain species of gut bacteria cause us to become obese.

Previous studies have shown that there is also an association between exercise and the species of bacteria that inhabit our gut. In particular, exercise is associated with an increase in bacteria that metabolize fiber in our diets to short chain fatty acids such as butyrate. That is potentially important because butyrate is a primary food source for intestinal mucosal cells (the cells that line the intestine). Butyrate helps those cells maintain the integrity of the gut barrier (which helps prevent things like leaky gut syndrome). It also has an anti-inflammatory effect on the immune cells that reside in the gut.

However, associations don’t prove cause and effect. We don’t know whether the differences in gut bacteria were caused by differences in diet or leanness in populations who exercised regularly and those who did not. This is what the present study (JM Allen et al, Medicine & Science In Sports & Exercise, 50: 747-757, 2018 ) was designed to clarify.  Is our microbiome affected by exercise?

 

How Was The Study Designed?

is our microbiome affected by exercise studyThis study was performed at the University of Illinois. Thirty-two previously sedentary subjects (average age = 28) were recruited for the study. Twenty of them were women and 12 were men. Prior to starting the study, the participants filled out a 7-day dietary record. They were asked to follow the same diet throughout the 12-week study. In addition, a dietitian designed a 3-day food menu based on their 7-day recall for the participants to follow prior to each fecal collection to determine species of gut bacteria.

The study included a two-week baseline when their baseline gut bacteria population was measured, and participants were tested for fitness. This was followed by a 6-week exercise intervention consisting of three supervised 30 to 60-minute moderate to vigorous exercise sessions per week. The exercise was adapted to the participant’s initial fitness level, and both the intensity and duration of exercise increased over the 6-week exercise intervention. Following the exercise intervention, all participants were instructed to maintain their diet and refrain from exercise for another 6 weeks. This was referred to as the “washout period.”

VO2max (a measure of fitness) was determined at baseline and at the end of the exercise intervention. Stool samples for determination of gut bacteria and concentrations of short-chain fatty acids were taken at baseline, at the end of the exercise intervention, and again after the washout period.

In short, this study divided participants into lean and obese categories and held diet constant. The only variable was the exercise component.

 

Is Our Microbiome Affected By Exercise?

is our microbiome affected by exercise fitnessThe results of the study were as follows:

  • Fitness, as assessed by VO2max, increased for all the participants, and the increase in fitness was comparable for both lean and obese subjects.
  • Exercise induced a change in the population of gut bacteria, and the change was comparable in lean and obese subjects.
  • Exercise increased fecal concentrations of butyrate and other short-chain fatty acids in the lean subjects, but not in obese subjects.
  • The exercise-induced changes in gut bacteria and short-chain fatty acid production were largely reversed once exercise training ceased.

The authors concluded: “These findings suggest that exercise training induces compositional and functional changes in the human gut microbiota that are dependent on obesity status, independent of diet, and contingent on the sustainment of exercise.” [Note: To be clear, the exercise-induced changes in both gut bacteria and short-chain fatty acid production were independent of diet and contingent on the sustainment of exercise. However, only the production of short-chain fatty acids was dependent on obesity status.]

 

What Does This Study Mean For You?

is our microbiome affected by exercise gut bacteriaThere are two important take home lessons from this study.

  • With respect to our gut bacteria, I have consistently told you that microbiome research is an emerging science. This is a small study, so you should regard it as the beginning of our understanding of the effect of exercise on our microbiome rather than conclusive by itself. It is consistent with previous studies showing an association between exercise and a potentially beneficial shift in the population of gut bacteria.

The strength of the study is that it shows that exercise-induced changes in beneficial gut bacteria are probably independent of diet. However, it is the first study to look at the interaction between obesity, exercise and gut bacteria, so I would interpret those results with caution until they have been replicated in subsequent studies.

  • With respect to exercise, this may be yet another reason to add regular physical activity to your healthy lifestyle program. We already know that exercise is important for cardiovascular health. We also know that exercise increases lean muscle mass which increases metabolic rate and helps prevent obesity. There is also excellent evidence that exercise improves mood and helps prevent cognitive decline as we age.

Exercise is also associated with decreased risk of colon cancer and irritable bowel disease. This effect of exercise has not received much attention because the mechanism of this effect is unclear. This study shows that exercise increases the fecal concentrations of butyrate and other short-chain fatty acids. Perhaps, this provides the mechanism for the interaction between exercise and intestinal health.

 

The Bottom Line

A recent study has reported that:

  • Exercise induces a change in the population of gut bacteria, and the change was comparable in lean and obese subjects.
  • Exercise causes an increase in the number of gut bacteria that produce butyrate and other short-chain fatty acids that are beneficial for gut health.
  • These effects are independent of diet, but do not appear to be independent of obesity because they were seen in lean subjects but not in obese subjects.
  • The exercise-induced changes in gut bacteria and short-chain fatty acid production are largely reversed once exercise training ceases.

The authors concluded: “These findings suggest that exercise training induces compositional and functional changes in the human gut microbiota that are dependent on obesity status, independent on diet, and contingent on the sustainment of exercise.”

For more details and my interpretation of the data, 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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