Occasionally a patient comes in with pain along the anterior lateral part of their lower leg and they may also have difficulty lifting the top of their foot upward at the ankle (dorsiflexion) or moving the foot outward at the ankle (eversion). This also affects the patient’s gait (ability to walk properly)
They may have been told that their problem is sciatica since branches of the sciatic nerve goes all way down the leg and into the toes. They may have been to a physical therapist or another chiropractor who worked on the low back where the sciatic nerve originates without any relief.
But the problem is the peroneal nerve which branches off the sciatic just below the knee; it goes from the common peroneal nerve which starts at the lateral back of the knee near the inner side of the biceps femoris (part of the hamstings), goes to the back of the fibula bone and then branches off to the superficial peroneal nerve and the deep peroneal nerve.
The deep peroneal nerve innervates the muscles of the anterior compartment of the leg which are: tibialis anterior, extensor hallucis longus, extensor digitorum longus, and the peroneus tertius. Together these muscles are responsible for dorsiflexion of the foot and extension of the toes.
The superficial peroneal nerve passes between the peroneus muscles and the extensor digitorum longus, and goes into the deep fascia at the lower third of the leg; it supplies the muscles of the lateral compartment of the lower leg : peroneus longus and peroneus brevis. These assist with eversion and plantar flexion of the foot.
The deep peroneal nerve passes inferior and medially, deep to extensor digitorum longus, and comes into relation with the anterior tibial artery above the middle of the leg; it then descends with the artery to the front of the ankle-joint, where it divides into a lateral and a medial branch. The deep peroneal nerve innervates the muscles of the anterior compartment of the leg which are: tibialis anterior, extensor hallucis longus, extensor digitorum longus, and the peroneus tertius. These muscles are responsible for dorsiflexion of the foot and extension of the toes.
Spasms of muscles along the route of these nerves can cause nerve entrapment and result in loss of muscle function or pain along the route of the nerves. As muscle attaches to bones and joints, spasms can cause misalignments of these structures and this can further complicate the problem.
Sometimes the muscle spasms are complicating for a muscle that is inhibited somewhere along the lateral or posterior kinetic chain such as the gluteus maximus, gluteus medius, the hamstrings and the rectus femoris or the psoas which overwork in order to to lift the leg to clear the dropped foot during walking. Neurokinetic therapy works well answering this question and correcting the problem.
As a applied kinesiologist and neurokinetic therapist I will either place my finger or hand on specific areas and then retests the muscle to see if the weakness is corrected. This is called therapy localization.
If the therapy localization is positive and the area involved is a joint or a muscle, I can move the area in a way to stimulate neuro/mechano receptors in the joint or muscle. This is called a “challenge’ and shows the direction of manipulation needed to improve function of the joint or muscle.
As a chiropractor, I would not only adjust the involved joints but check to see if the change in gait muscles has affected the spine and adjust affected level.
Stretches are given to the previously complicating muscles and exercises given to the previously inhibited muscles in order to break the pattern that caused the problem.
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© 2016-Dr. Vittoria Repetto
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