Discussions By Condition: I cannot get a diagnosis.

not compartment syndrome...so what is it?

Posted In: I cannot get a diagnosis. 12 Replies
  • Posted By: fixmylegs
  • May 28, 2009
  • 06:16 AM

I am a soccer player at the University of Portland.
When i was around 12 years old, I started to get a little bit of calf pain when we would warm up for practice. I would try to cramp as everyone told me to do, but the stretching never seemed to help much. as practice went on the tightness would go away or i would stop thinking about it.
the problem persisted and i would feel pain and/or tightness while running and jogging, but it never stopped me from practicing or playing. i was able to do everything my team was doing.
by the time i was 17 and running with my club team in the hills, things had gotten worse. while running in the hills, the pain became worse and although i have always been faster than most and have pretty good endurance, i was forced to jog for a bit and then walk for even longer. as long as i wasn't in the hills though, i didn't have many problems and could still practice and play.
when i started my first year at UP in the fall of 2006, the increased training was not good for my legs. i started having to sit out of fitness sessions because the running was just too much. at the worst times, i would experience calf pain in the large calf muscle in the back of my leg, pain down in my soleus (sp?), and tingling in the soles of my feet. I got through the season and in february 2007 i was diagnosed with chronic compartment syndrome and had surgery that same month. i had all 4 compartments in both legs released. things seemed to go pretty well during my recovery, but about 4 months later when i started training heavily again, the pain came back. i trained similarly to the way i had before surgery for the rest of the year and through my sophomore season (absolutely no long runs, few fitness sessions, no hills, no stairs). another test after the season confirmed that my pressures were still high and in december of 2007 i had another bilateral fasciotomy. any pain that i had before the first surgery in the front and outside of my legs had gone away, so this time they just did the posterior compartments.
again though, when i started training heavily again in about march or april, the pain came back. for a while i decided i would just deal with my legs, but recently the problem has been extremely frustrated and in march i started trying to find a solution. in march i was tested again for compartment syndrome, but my pressures were normal. so far i have seen orthopedic surgeons, vascular surgeons, neuromuscular surgeons, chiropractors, and acupuncturists. i have had the pressure test, running evaluation, , emg, mri, mra, bone scan, x-ray, and other tests i can't remember. so far the only thing left we can think of is a muscle biopsy, everything else has turned out perfectly.
the pain comes on very shortly after i start running or exercising and is a painful tightness and weakness. it is like a deep burning. after i stop running or exercising, the pain goes away pretty quickly. sometimes i notice some discomfort while i am just sitting, but never very noticeably. one interesting thing is that i can produce very strong cramps in my calves simply by pointing my feet either down or in.
i have tried insoles and they didn't help much.
so if its not compartment syndrome, anything vascular or neuromuscular, anyone have any ideas? i have plans of playing after college, and getting my legs fixed would definitely help.
thanks for taking the time!

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12 Replies:

  • There could be long term damage from problems adapting to persistent and extreme gait and biomechanical alterations brought on by running shoes. Have you tried any therapeutic practice on your own? It will take some re-adaptation (mostly 'unadaptation'), but you should try running barefoot or in very minimal shoes. Run slowly and always stop if there is any pain - repair can take a long time.I would recommend this to most people in your place, but you certainly sound like you have some outlier symptoms. I'd give it a try anyway since it can only help.
    npcomplete 20 Replies Flag this Response
  • i'm having a little trouble understanding what you're trying to say here. sorry
    fixmylegs 5 Replies Flag this Response
  • Are you currently mobile? I'm saying that you may be able to retrain yourself, and that chronic poor usage of your legs might have caused these problems. What part is unclear?
    npcomplete 20 Replies Flag this Response
  • yes i'm definitely mobile. i can still play and am the fastest kid on my team. i have had a stride analysis and the docs and athletic trainers who have seen it say everything looks fine.
    fixmylegs 5 Replies Flag this Response
  • i do pronate quite a bit, and i'm looking into orthodix but regular insoles haven't helped a bit.
    fixmylegs 5 Replies Flag this Response
  • Yes, I'm saying that the most effective re-training is barefoot running (slow, careful, and stop if anything is unpleasant). Most importantly, you must spend considerable amount of time adapting, but in the end you should feel a lot better and you'll certainly be a better runner for it.
    npcomplete 20 Replies Flag this Response
  • i'm just confused on what i need to retrain and how long you think this will take?
    fixmylegs 5 Replies Flag this Response
  • I'm no medical professional, but after just reading The Magnesium Miracle, I wonder if your troubles might be something as simple as lactic acid build-up caused by a magnesium deficiency. This is very common in athletes, especially long distance runners, and causes symptoms such as you have described. In case you have already check into this possibility and ruled it out, I won't go into a lot of detail here, but I recommend the book (authored by Carolyn Dean, M.D., N.D.)In our country of depleted, mineral poor soils, most people are deficient in magnesium. Taking a calcium supplement, as most people do, is only part of the equation. Calcium contracts the muscles, magnesium relaxes.Hope this helps. And by the way, she recommends magnesium oil, applied topically to bypass the digestive system, as it can be difficult to absorb enough of the mineral before causing diarrhea.
    babaha 1 Replies Flag this Response
  • Last fall i started my freshman year of college playing womens soccer at marshall university...my story is very similar to yours becuase i also had pain when i was younger but always ignored it and never thought anything of it. i was tested for compartment syndrome and had surgery in december. its been seven months since my surgery but i am starting to feel similar tightness and pain in my legs while trying to prepare for perseason. while researching post surgery problems that might come up i came across your blog. i can't imagine how frustrating it must be to not have an answer to your problems. i just thought i'd tell you that i will let you know if i come across anything that might be able to help you because its a problem not many people can relate to. hope it all works out!
    Anonymous 42,789 Replies Flag this Response
  • thank you so much for the reply!yea it has been frustrating, but i'm still able to play so i'm getting pretty excited for the season to start. we start against virginia. how is your season looking? can you still play?i will say that we just got a new trainer who is pretty against the compartment syndrome surgeries in general. he has been trying to explain to me that most people with compartment syndrome essentially have too much muscle for their legs and no matter how much you cut open, there is just not enough room. he has been trying a massage technique called myo-fascial release or something like that, you might want to look into it. with both of my surgeries i got some relief for a few months, but we both think it is just from my leg muscles shrinking due to not using them. once i built the muscle back up, my symptoms return and get worse the more i build calf muslce. i have been trying to stay away from anything that really works my calves besides playing. the trainer just ordered an aqua jogger so i can get my fitness in a pool, and i'll let you know if i get any benefit from that, the massages, and the stretching that he has been giving me. i just started yesterday, so it might take a while longer. again, thanks for the reply. it is so nice to know i'm not alone in this. if you have any questions feel free to ask anything.
    fixmylegs 5 Replies Flag this Response
  • Your problem sounds like what I have going on.Wondering how you are doing and if they ever figured it out?I just had the compartment pressure testing and that is not it my pressure was low.But sometimes when I run around like a mile or two my Left foot gets real tight and then feels like it is going to give out.So I have to stop for a sec then I can get going agian the only problem is the longer I run the more frequently I have to stop till it gets to the point where I can only walk.I also get really bad cramping from just pointing my toes as well.Would love to see if you made any headway. My Orthopedist is stumped.-leesa
    LisaCoyne 1 Replies
    • November 19, 2013
    • 06:51 PM
    • 0
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  • I share you injury woes. I have a had a full decompression of my right leg following a compartment syndrome diagnosis. My first race back which was 5 months following my last surgery, has seen pain and numbness return. I am lost and feeling really disillusioned. My pain is sporadic and tends to linger around the medial side of my leg just above my soleus or running parallel down both sides of my tibialis. The former being the most debilitating. Any ideas?
    Anonymous 1 Replies Flag this Response
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