resourcesABOUT MT AUTHOR GUIDELINES CLASSIFIEDS EDITORIAL CALENDAR MEDIA GUIDE MASSAGE MART SCHOOLS & EDUCATION FEEDBACK
Medicine is Clumsy, Don't You Be
All medical systems have clumsiness in them. If the technique isn't, the practitioner is. Everyone in every form of medicine is striving to improve. That is why we call it practice.
How Much Do You Know About the Benefits of Birds Nest?
Edible bird's nest is the nest made by the Swiftlet bird of Southeast Asia that is usually prepared as a soup and prized in Chinese culture as a healthful delicacy.
Integrating Art with Clinical Practice for Patients with PTSD: The Artemis Project
Are you restricted by those one-on-one clinic dynamics? Why not join colleagues and clients in experimental group settings? Three of us volunteered to do just that in Austin on behalf of women veteranss from all branches of the service.
5 Tips for Using Pinterest to Market Your Practice
Pinterest is a very popular, but often under-utilized, social media platform where people can bookmark, or "pin," fun and interesting things from all across the internet.
Functional Hip Impingement (Part 1)
Every time I sit down to write an article, I realize how much more there is to know about musculoskeletal pain. I also learn something new every time. (I want to give special thanks to Lucy Whyte Ferguson for assisting with this article.)
The Acupuncturist's Problem
I want share with you some observations and insights into what seems to be the most common problem my colleagues in the acupuncture profession struggles with. If you also struggle with this problem, I hope you get a valuable "aha" moment from reading this.
Low Back Pain in Professional Golf: A Common Muscular Relationship
Every sport creates its own unique demands on the body. Some sports require such a myriad of body positions that assessing pathology is often difficult and unpredictable.
Talking to Patients About Lumbar Facet Denervation (Medial Branch Neurotomy)
Lumbar facet denervation, more appropriately termed medial branch neurotomy (MBN), is a procedure that may be considered when patients suffer from recalcitrant non-radicular axial back and/or leg pain.
The Challenges of Integrating Eastern and Western Medicine
My Masters thesis was titled, "The Challenges of Integrating Eastern and Western Medicine," which highlighted several reasons why it is hard for these two worlds to mix.
Marijuana, Apathy and Chinese Medicine, Part 1
This article was written in response to the unheeded acceptance of marijuana as a harmless substance that potentially does good when used for the medical relief of pain.
Optimism = Compassion = Trust
A randomized clinical trial recently published online in JAMA Oncology examined how patients viewed their doctor based upon how the practitioner presented bad news to the patient.
Animal Acupuncture: A Case Study in the Treatment of Traumatic Injury in the Equine
The rise of animal acupuncture in the U.S. began in the early 1970's as a result of the work by members of the National Acupuncture Association in Westwood, Calif.
PCOM Granted Regional Accreditation
Pacific College of Oriental Medicine (PCOM) recently announce it has received regional accreditation from the Western Association of Schools and Colleges (WASC). This achievement reflects five years of hard work on the part of faculty, staff, and students.
A View From the ER
The University of Western States has inked an innovative agreement with local nonprofit health system Legacy Health whereby UWS sports-medicine fellows can experience observational clinical rotations in emergency-room settings within the Legacy system.
5 Simple Steps to Create an Effective Marketing Calendar
In the educational experience of most healthcare practitioners, business and marketing are overlooked topics.
Applying the Thin Skull Principle
The "thin skull" principle, also known as the "you take your victim as you find them" principle, is a legal principle that can be summed up by the following statement.
Term Limits: What's in a Word?
It was the French historian and philosopher Voltaire who once declared the Holy Roman Empire was neither holy nor Roman nor an empire.
Sleep, Less Sleep or No Sleep?
I had a dream I wasn't getting enough sleep. It was a very realistic dream, even though I was probably slightly awake and not really deep dreaming. Most likely I had been dozing, caught in that twilight of sleep and wakefulness.
A House Divided?
The American Chiropractic Association's House of Delegates voted on 30 resolutions at its annual business meeting in Washington D.C., but two in particular took immediate center stage due to their controversial nature.
The Tide is Rising in the Acupuncture Profession
Former President Ronald Regan said, "When the tide rises all boats float." The tide is rising for the acupuncture profession. Many forces outside the profession are helping the tides to rise.
November, 2011, Vol. 11, Issue 11
Gastrocnemius: A Cramp in the Calf
By David Kent, LMT, NCTMB
At some point, patients with posterior leg cramping and pain will seek your services. A multitude of factors produce these symptoms, from dehydration, overuse, poor conditioning, muscle fatique, to low levels of potassium, sodium and or carbohydrates.Let's focus on the gastrocnemius muscle, reviewing key points, showing its four myofascial trigger point locations, pain referral patterns and treatment techniques. If the gastrocnemius muscle is the cause of the pain and not properly treated, the pain will become more persistent and intense.
Gastrocnemius is a two-headed muscle that crosses two joints, the knee and ankle. The medial head is slightly larger and longer than the lateral head. The two heads of the gastrocnemius merge to form the inferolateral and inferomedial boundaries of the popliteal fossa. The gastrocnemius, along with soleus, and plantaris comprise the superficial group of muscles in the posterior compartment of the leg. (Image 1) A three headed calf muscle formed by the two-headed gastrocnemius and soleus. This large muscle merges into the calcaneal tendon or achilles tendon. It plantar flexes the ankle joint, raising the heel off the ground against body weight, as when a person is walking or balancing on their toes.
Complaints from myofascial trigger points in the gastrocnemius muscle include: night cramps and might be activated by climbing up steps, steep slopes, running uphill or riding a bicycle with the seat is adjusted too low. Patients with active trigger points may complain of pain while walking in the soft sand of a beach or on a slanted surface. Any of these activities coupled with cold air temperature, might contribute to the development of trigger points in the gastrocnemius. Other factors that might promote the development of trigger points include having the ankle in a cast, wearing clothing that restricts circulation or reclining chairs that reduce blood flow.
While you may know the location of trigger points and their specific pain referral patterns, your patients do not and they will respect the professional level of patient education you are providing. For example, in photo 2, "X" indicates the common location of trigger points within a muscle. When a trigger point is activated during treatment, it will produce referred phenomena (pain, tingling, pressure, etc) which is shown in red. (Image 2) Solid red areas indicate an essential pain zone or area of pain experienced by nearly every patient that had that trigger point activated. The red dots indicate spillover pain zones. These are areas of pain experienced by some, but not all, patients outside of the essential pain zones.
Locations and Patterns
The most common trigger point (TrP ) in the gastrocnemius is TrP 1. It is located just distal to the posterior knee, near the medial border of the medial head. It has a strong referral pattern to the ipsilateral instep with a spillover pattern that extends from the distal posterior thigh, along the medial aspect of the calf to the medial maleolus. The next most common trigger point is TrP 2, which is located slightly more distally then TrP1, in the lateral head and refers mostly in a regional pattern near the trigger point. (Image 3) TrPs 3 and 4 are located just distal to the knee and also refer very regional patterns near the location of the trigger point.
There are numerous techniques for releasing myofascial trigger points. The patient must always be comfortable with your treatment pressure, so communicate before, during and after the session. If during a treatment session, your patient is reflexively contracting muscles, pulling away, holding their breath or cinching their teeth because the therapy hurts, then your pressure should be released immediately. Assume the treatment pressure was too much, discontinue treating the sensitive area and return a few minutes later with less pressure.
Muscle Belly: Patient's knee is flexed. Glide distal to proximal, starting at the calcaneus treating the muscles of solues and gastrocnemius. (Image 4)
Lateral Head: Patient's knee is flexed. Using pincher compression, treat the lateral head. (Image 5)
Medial Head: Patient's knee is flexed. Using pincher compression, treat the lateral head. (Image 6)
Tendon: Shorten the calcaneal tendon. Useing pincher compression, treat the lateral, medial, anterior and posterior aspects of the tendon. (Images 7) Next, flex the knee and ankle slightly to lengthen the achilles tendon. Glide distal to proximal, starting at the calcaneus treating the posterior, lateral and medial aspects of the calcaneal tendon. (Image 8)
Calcaneus: Treat the tendon attachment on the calcaneous. Check for sensitivity first by treating with your fingers. If necessary a pressure bar can be used to assist the treatment of this attachment. (Image 9)
The gastrocnemius can be a "real" cramp in the calf. It can produce a great deal of pain and dysfunction for your patients. Educate your patients of the contributing causes and symptoms of gastrocnemius trigger points.
Click here for more information about David Kent, LMT, NCTMB.
Join the conversation
Comments are encouraged, but you must follow our User Agreementcomments powered by Disqus
Keep it civil and stay on topic. No profanity, vulgar, racist or hateful comments or personal attacks. Anyone who chooses to exercise poor judgement will be blocked. By posting your comment, you agree to allow MPA Media the right to republish your name and comment in additional MPA Media publications without any notification or payment.