Trigger Points and Calf Pain

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It was about twenty three years ago, and I was working as a doctor in New Zealand.

I had just started studying trigger points. Every evening I pored over old manuals and worked out how to find all the triggers in the body. But I had yet to practice my new skills on anyone but myself.

Then one day I saw a very fit healthy young lady who was a keen provincial level hockey player. The problem was, whenever she ran she had this nasty pain in her calf.

She had seen a surgeon who diagnosed a strange and rare condition called compartment syndrome. The key to this condition is that the muscles in your leg are in compartments, almost like sausage skins around your bone.

If you’re unlucky when you exercise, the pressure goes up in one compartment which stops blood supply from getting to the muscle.

So the more you exercise, the worse the pain gets as the muscle is starved of oxygen.

The treatment for this syndrome is to slit open the problem compartment with a long ‘s’ shaped cut which would have gone all the way down her
lower leg and created an ugly scar.

Naturally, she wanted to avoid surgery and came to me for a second opinion. So, when I examined her legs I found exquisitely tender trigger points in her lower leg muscles.

The Gastrocnemius and Soleus muscles - two common places for trigger points

The Gastrocnemius and Soleus muscles - two common places for trigger points

I treated them with acupressure, stretches and some acupuncture. To our amazement her pain went completely and she was able to continue playing hockey without the surgery.

This was my very first treatment, and both me and my first trigger point patient were blown away with how well it worked.

Over the years I’ve had many other success stories, some not as dramatic, some equally dramatic. But all of them as satisfying for me and the person getting relief from the pain.

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Comments

  1. Carrie says

    I have chronic calf pain (more like an annoyance actually) and huge muscle knots in my calves and in my glutes. I think its the muscle knots causing the problem and not something else like an actual tear, etc. (I saw a chiropractor who said the same thing). Is it OK to keep running? I am training for a marathon and while I run, in my back of my mind there’s that fear I’ll make the discomfort into a major issue, especially as my mileage gets up. As long as running won’t make it a serious injury (even if the running knocks up the pain level that’s OK as long as it doesn’t do irreparable damage or prevent me from running the marathon in 7 weeks), I’ll keep on training. I really don’t want to take anytime off. Thanks!

    Carrie

  2. Rasmus says

    Hi Jonathan.

    About 3-4 months ago I played basketball with some friends between classes. Needless to say I was wearing the wrong footwear and skipped warming up all together. I was jumping and changing directions – afterwards I felt a strange huuming/buzzing in my left knee and it started swelling.
    Since the incident I’ve been checked by a PT. Apparently there’s nothing wrong with my meniscus or ligaments. He told me the hamstring was the culprit (imbalance in my thigh), and gave me stretching and strengthening exercises.
    The stretching and strengthening has helped (swelling is pretty my gone), but my left knee still feels different, unstable somehow. Lately I’ve discovered my left calf has some very tender points in the upper medial part of the gastrocnemius. When massaged pain shoots through the knee into the hamstring.

    -What’s your thoughts on this?

    With kind regards, Rasmus from Denmark

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