Pelvic Block Resulting from Structural Leg Length Discrepancy
The aspect of Short Right Leg Syndrome that took me the longest to recognise but has arguably the biggest impact on health is the Pelvic Block. The asymmetry of structural leg length discrepancy generates the Three Cardinal Signs of SRLS setting in place chronic strain through the soft tissue of the Pelvis inhibiting the energetic Qi flow through the six organ channels or Acupuncture Meridians described by Traditional Chinese Medicine travelling to and from the lower limbs. I am not able to say too much about this because it is outside my scope of practice as a Remedial Therapist. However, clients undertaking heel lift therapy for SRLS frequently report coincidental benefits to digestion shortly after commencing treatment.
My initial reaction to their comments was to say, “That’s interesting but why are you telling me? I am treating your leg and back pain.” It was not until commencing heel lift treatment for my own condition when I experienced a sudden and dramatic improvement to digestion that I realised it was the result of improved energetic flow in the TCM organ channels. I then hypothesised that if it was having this effect on digestive organs, a similar effect is likely to occur with the reproductive organs and Kidneys. I now have anecdotal evidence this is the case.
Specifically, the left SIJ is twisted in high range anterior rotation due to the First Cardinal Sign compressing the cartilage and straining the ligaments. It may or may not be painful. Regardless, sufficient tightness is present in the ligamental structure to block energetic flow down the backline of the lower limb. In the long term the left SIJ may become unstable and injured by the chronic strain. The left hip flexors are held in a short position, will be chronically tight and always require more stretching than the right side.
With the Second Cardinal Sign the right hip joint, musculature and connective tissue about the Acetablum and Iliac Crest become rigid and tight. The Hip joint’s ROM is restricted compared to the left side. The right SIJ The right Adductor Magnus chronically tight. Right Adductors require more stretching than the left. Gluteal musculature will be in spasm where the Left and Right Lower LImb Mechanisms become prominent.
The effects of the Third Cardinal Sign with the Lumbar Spine sitting on a tilted Sacrum force it into mild scoliosis with right convexity. Lumbar disks are encouraged to bulge slightly t+o the right. This contributes to the state of the right QL’s which are frequently tight and tender, and lower back pain generally. Particularly where the client has experienced acute injury in the past, the asymmetrical strain is constantly nagging the old injury causing pain and dysfunction.
Also contributing to QL tightness is an inactive Glute Medius which does not properly stabilise the Pelvis in locomotion forcing the adjacent TFL and contra-lateral QL to take on greater load. I expect too there will be strain about the Sacrum and internal aspects of the Pelvis in ways that I am not sufficiently knowledgeable about to detail.
Some of what I describe is subtle and may only be noticeable to a therapist with finely attuned palpation skills, or clients who are dancers or yoga practitioners. Some of these effects are only too apparent to the client who has chronic low back pain, acute SIJ, adductor or hip flexor issues. Because it is a condition we live with that slowly creeps up on us year by year as we age beyond the life expectancy of our prehistoric ancestors, it is almost undetectable. Also too, not understanding the energetic Qi flow effect on mobility through the lower limbs and spine, and on internal health, therapists and patients alike do not make the connection and dismiss what they perceive to be minor postural anomalies.
First coming to my attention in clinical practice were mobility cases impacting the backline of the lower limbs due to the effects of the First and Second Cardinal Signs at the Pelvis. The energetic blockage causing a subtle thickening and tightening of the connective tissue through the backline that under loading escalates to acute conditions such as Piriformis Syndrome, Plantar Fasciitis, chronic hamstring and calf tightness and dysfunction up to and including rupture. These type of cases are not uncommon. The youngest such case I have sighted was a fourteen year old athlete and heel lift treatment resolved his issues entirely within two weeks. These mobility symptoms generally afflict those undertaking athletic and/or repetitive physical activity, particularly where inadequate mobilising and stretching recovery action is undertaken. There is a link between loading mild underlying states being pushed into acute symptoms. There are exceptions to this but this is the common pattern.
Advanced cases not so frequently sighted in my clinical practice is where the Pelvic block has gradually become more thoroughly entrenched due to the course of time and perhaps the nature of the the individuals life, activity and employment. A structural leg length discrepancy combined with a job that has the subject on their feet for many hours of the day will amplify the the effect of the blockage. These advanced cases are in their 50's and 60's and are beginning to have difficulty with mobility. They may not have experienced the acute phases through the lower limbs described above. Yet leg function is gradually deteriorating and they begin to experience chronic low back pain, pain in the lower limb, rheumatic knee pain, tight hip, knee and ankle joints, skin infections on the feet, toe nail injuries that will not heal, fluid retention in the ankles. The right leg will typically have greater pain than the left...the Second Cardinal Sign at the right hip blocking the Bladder Meridian in its circuitous passage through the lower back and hip causing a thickening and tightening through the limb and pain in hamstring, behind the knee, in the calf and about the lateral aspect of the heel following the line of the Bladder Meridian.
Advanced cases may also have experienced catastrophic lumbar disk bulge injury. Hard physical activity combined with the structural effects of mild scoliosis from a tilted pelvis encourages this. Lumbro-sacral spasm from such an injury compounds the effect of the Pelvic block from the Three Cardinal Signs of SRLS. That was part my personal story. The resulting loss of integrity in a previously injured knee joint that had always managed fine with training, forced me out of sport. Gradual decline of lower limb function over the following two years was a mystery.
Conventional therapy for the symptoms being experienced only ever provides limited temporary relief until the leg length discrepancy is addressed and Pelvic block eliminated. I suspect I do not sight many advanced cases in clinical practice as it can rapidly force an individual to retire from active life. Should I visit old age retirement homes, I might find many such cases. Advanced cases will benefit greatly from supplementary treatment from massage, directed mobility exercise, TCM internal medicine, and energetic healing practices to clear blocked energetic passages in pelvis and lower limbs and reinvigorate/activate weakened vitality.
Further discussion on internal health effects required