resourcesABOUT MT AUTHOR GUIDELINES CLASSIFIEDS EDITORIAL CALENDAR MASSAGE MART SCHOOLS & EDUCATION FEEDBACK
Creating Good Business Buzz
What do patients really think about working with you? Rarely do you hear the whole truth. Those who improve may be candid in their gratitude.
Give Yourself the Digital Advantage
When you see this article in the print version of this issue and swear you read it already, don't be alarmed: you probably did. That's because by that time, the May issue will have been available online in digital format for three weeks.
Is It Time to Rethink Mental Illness? (Pt. 1)
Invariably, patients will ask their chiropractor about depression or various mental illnesses. Some practitioners will reflexively offer a cervical adjustment, suggest St. John's wort or contemplate a referral to a specialist.
News in Brief
ACA Adopts New Governance Model; ACA 2017 Awards; CCA Helps Calif. DCs "Share the Love"; $1 Million to Help Advance the Profession; D'Youville Raises the Bar on Anatomy Education; ErRatum.
A Daily Strategy for Heavy-Metal Detox
In modern society, we are constantly exposed to heavy metals such as cadmium, lead and mercury. These heavy metals have no essential biochemical roles in our body, and conversely, can cause us a great deal of harm if they build up to toxic levels.
The Visual Error Scoring System: A Concussion Tool
Postural stability and oculomotor function are the most easily recognized physical indicators of neurologic motor dysfunction associated with concussions.
Raditation & Your Smartphone: Is it Worth the Risk?
If radial arteries could talk (and in my experience they can to some extent), they would say, "Step away from the smartphone." At least that is the message I am receiving loud and clear as I feel the pulses of many patients.
Clearing Blocks: A Way to Improve Cosmetic Acupuncture
As a Five Element acupuncturist who teaches facial acupuncture classes nationally, I was surprised to learn that one of the basic principles I was taught in school is unfamiliar to most acupuncturists.
A Major Role in Back Pain: The Multifidus
Back pain affects roughly 80 percent of the population at one time or another and is one of the leading causes of doctor visits.
Universal Design: Principles & Practice
In many respects, universal design serves as the core of ergonomics. It's also a good tool to use when designing a return-to-work program for injured and/or ill patients. Let's take a closer look at universal design and why it should matter to you and your patients.
Women's Hormones: A Western & Eastern Perspective
Sometimes it may seem that you require a degree in medicine to understand hormones and how they function.
Balancing Spring Challenges
As the winter months come to a close and warmer spring weather appears, patients may begin to present with new challenging pattern presentations.
Bill With Confidence: Learn What to Collect
Q: I am trying to understand what I may collect from my patient when there is insurance. Do I have to accept the amount allowed by the plan or may I collect up to my billed amount? Please note, I am not a member of any insurance plan.
An Unexpected Diagnosis: The Result of Lacking Communication
A couple years ago I had a case that showed me the importance of open communication between health practitioners. We need to show up with less fear, and let go of our judgments so we can do better for the patient.
An Integrated Approach to Chronic Pain
Findings from a unique Medicaid pilot project in Rhode Island involving high-use Medicaid recipients from two health plans were recently presented to the state's Department of Health, demonstrating stellar outcomes with regard to medication use, ER visits, health care costs and patient satisfaction.
Why I Quit Doing House Calls
My father was a chiropractor who did house calls, so when I became a DC, I figured doing house calls was part of the job. My March article recalled my experience as a small boy, accompanying my dad while he went to patients' homes to treat them.
Is the New Medicare Reporting Exemption Right for You?
What you've heard is not a rumor – there will be exemptions for providers of Medicare patients, with no penalties assessed for offices that do not do Quality Payment Program (EHR, PQRS, MACRA and MIPS) reporting.
Taking the Chiropractic Message to the Press
"There is no better place on earth to have a news event," the National Press Club boasts, and it's easy to understand why: Every year, the 108-year-old Washington, D.C.-based organization hosts countless press conferences on the hottest topics impacting America and often the world.
Eczema & Acupuncture: A Sound Solution (Part 1)
Eczema affects approximately 3.5 percent of the global population and is one of the most common skin complaints seen by dermatologists.
New Relationships, Old Trauma: AOM & Other Healing Strategies
Being in love is one the most beautiful and enjoyable experiences. Most of us are willing to pay almost any price to have that experience, and still often find it elusive or fleeting. Navigating the ups and downs of loving relationships are often challenging — even for the most psychologically balanced among us.
August, 2007, Vol. 07, Issue 08
Short Leg Syndrome, Part One
By Erik Dalton, PhD
Leg length discrepancy, or as it has been alternatively termed, the short leg syndrome, is by far the most important postural asymmetry. Limb length discrepancy is simply defined as a condition where one leg is shorter than the other. If a substantial difference exists, disruptive effects on gait and posture can occur.
Leg-length discrepancy can be divided into two etiological groups:
Faulty feet and ankle structure profoundly affect leg length and pelvic positioning. The most common asymmetrical foot position is the pronated foot. Sensory receptors embedded on the bottom of the foot alert the brain to the slightest weight shift. Since the brain is always trying to maintain pelvic balance, when presented with a long left leg, it attempts to adapt to the altered weight shift by dropping the left medial arch (shortening the long leg) and supinating the right arch to lengthen the short leg.1 Left unchecked, excessive foot pronation will internally rotate the left lower extremity, causing excessive strain to the lateral meniscus and medial collateral knee ligaments.
Conversely, excessive supination tends to externally rotate the leg and thigh, creating opposite knee, hip and pelvic distortions.
Most structurally oriented bodyworkers have learned hands-on routines for separating adhesive fascial bags of the 11 lower leg muscles to lift (or lower) dysfunctional foot arches. To insure proper foot functioning, tone must be stimulated in weakened arch muscles using fast paced muscle spindle techniques. As the myofascia regains lost elasticity, blood flow and vital nutrients permeate the fatigued tissues, allowing the muscles of supination (tibialis anterior, peroneus longus, tibialis posterior, etc.) to regain strength and mobility. In addition to myofascial work, one also must focus on restoring alignment and motion to the subtalar joint commonly stuck in a valgus (pronated) position (Figure 2). The subtalar or talocalcaneal joint forms the articulation where calcaneus and talus meet and allows foot inversion and eversion. To restore normal subtalar alignment, the therapist decompresses, abducts, plantar flexes and inverts the foot using myoskeletal contract-relax-
Biomechanical Relationship of Feet to Pelvis
Ilial rotation is coupled with leg length discrepancy. In Figure 4, the femoral head on the long leg side "drives" the ilia upward and backward. Conversely, the ilium on the low femoral head side drops down (anteriorly rotates). The concurrent rotation of both ilia in opposite directions produces a left-on-left sacral torsion (Figure 5). This complex ilial rotation coexisting with sacral rotation usually is described as pelvic obliquity. Weight bearing on the right leg will produce this common compensatory pelvic pattern. Ilial rotation can be palpated by placing your fingers under each ASIS and shifting weight from one leg to another. Now place your thumbs on each sacral base and shift side to side. Right leg weight-bearing should cause the right sacral base to go deep (anteriorly rotate).
For efficient locomotion, a symmetrical and well-aligned body is essential. When the three bones of the pelvis are distorted by limb length discrepancies, gravitational forces wreak havoc on weakened SI joint and accessory pelvic ligaments (sacrotuberous and iliolumbar). These structures find themselves desperately struggling to maintain structural balance. Left untreated, a diverse array of symptoms appears as the short leg destabilizes the pelvis by unleveling the sacral base. Painful lumbar compensations often travel all the way up through the atlantooccipital (A-O) joint, as the spinal column is forced to rotate and side-bend to accommodate the uneven sacral base.
In the lower limbs, short leg compensations can be summarized as follows:
Compensatory (functional) scoliosis commonly is reflected as a low shoulder on the high ilium side, as seen in Figure 7. A short "C" curve is common in the cervical spine, due to a "stuck" occipitoatlantal joint unable to tilt the head on the neck to level the eyes with the horizon. Elbow and hand positions can appear shorter on the short leg side, with the opposing arm swinging more on that side. Some authors suggest that there is a rotation of the pelvis toward the long leg side, possibly due to hyperpronation and medial leg rotation.2 These authors describe a typical gait when the short leg steps down and the long leg compensates by "vaulting."
Walking on the toes on the short side and flexing the knee of the long side seems to be a fairly consistent compensatory movement pattern. As the center of gravity unevenly shifts, the smooth sinusoidal motion of gait is disrupted. Thus, the cosmetic effect of walking also can contribute to the compensatory mechanism and eventual injury. For example, walking on the toes can lead to contracture of the Achilles and calf muscles, creating conditions such as Achilles tendinitis and plantar fascitis.
Other functional scoliotic compensations include shortening of the quadratus lumborum on the long side, and a shortening of scalene, levator scapulae, sternocleidomastoid, and upper trapezius muscles on the contralateral side. This typical adaptive muscle imbalance pattern helps maintain erect head position with eyes level. Regrettably, prolonged muscle shortening "crams" vertebral and rib articulations, compounding the problem. The spine's neuronal pool overflows as subthreshold stimuli progress to full-blown efferent nerve discharge, triggering increased muscle guarding. Thus, a vicious pain/spasm/pain cycle sinks its neurological tentacles deep into old intrinsic spinal groove muscles (rotatores, multifidus, intertransversarii and levator costalis), resulting in central nervous system overload, limbic system hyperactivity ... and dis-STRESS.
The presence of a limb length discrepancy usually is easily recognizable during gait by observing the following:
Note: During running, it has been suggested that limb length discrepancy makes no real difference, due to the fact that only one foot strikes the ground at any given time. However, Blustein and D'Amico's extensive research finds that leg length discrepancy is the third most common cause of running injuries.3
The importance of limb length discrepancy cannot be ignored and often is the key feature in lower limb and back pathologies. Thus, the use of proper visual and anatomic landmark evaluations is paramount in distinguishing between a functional and a structural limb length discrepancy. If in doubt about your ability to adequately and consistently distinguish leg length differences, have a three-dimensional radiographic postural study performed by a qualified manual medicine physician.
Proper limb measurement is essential. Unfortunately, there is no single hands-on method proven completely reliable in its own right. It is for this reason that therapists should develop a holistic approach that includes systematically eliminating aberrant lower limb myofascial strain patterns while restoring joint play to all feet and ankle bones. Although presentations do differ from client to client, most of the previously discussed patterning theories will prove accurate. During the assessment phase, the most important feature for the beginning therapist to recognize is that asymmetry exists. From there, more specific details emerge with experience.
Integral parts of treating the condition are identification, comprehension of each individual's compensatory adaptations and their relationship to resultant symptomatology. Today's touch therapist must be aware of the fundamental importance of limb inequalities, particularly the "short right leg" controversy featured in my next column.
Click here for previous articles by Erik Dalton, PhD.
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