In managing one EDS problem, I accidentally created another

Getting to the bottom of my latest EDS muscle pain flare

Karen Del Vecchio avatar

by Karen Del Vecchio |

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A few weeks ago, while walking through the barn at the farm where I live, I felt a twinge in the bottom of my right foot. I ignored it, figuring I’d probably just taken a funny step. But as the day went on, it bothered me more and more, and by the evening, I was in a lot of pain. As is common for Ehlers-Danlos syndrome (EDS) patients, I had no idea what I’d done, but clearly I’d done something!

At first I thought that maybe my plantar fasciitis was acting up again. The pain wasn’t the same, but some aspects overlapped. For instance, the pain was worse in the morning when I got up, moving around helped, and wearing supportive shoes made a noticeable difference. I’d feel better for a few days, but then the pain would flare up again.

One day, I felt a slight soreness in the side of my calf muscle. That evening, I got out my rotating massager and laid it on the couch so I could put my leg on it. Holy moly, was my calf sore.

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Identifying the source of my pain helps me resolve compensations

Getting to the bottom of things

At my most recent massage, I told Kim, my bodyworker, about the foot pain. She identified the culprit as the peroneus brevis muscle, which runs along the outside of the lower leg and attaches to the fifth metatarsal. I felt the most pain at that attachment point, but I realized my tight, sore peroneus brevis was actually causing the problem.

As I wondered what I’d done to cause such a flare, Kim told me that it’s not surprising for someone who spends a lot of time on their feet, especially in boots like those I wear for farm work, because they restrict ankle movement. As a result, the calf and the ball of the foot have to take on more movement to compensate.

I badly damaged my ankle during my teenage years, so I intentionally wear boots that lace up rather than zip so I can make them snug for added stability. In doing so, I’ve apparently created a new problem for myself.

Now that I know this effect, I’ve been doing a few things differently. For starters, I’m trying to wear my boots only when I’m riding my horse, and I change into sneakers for casual barn chores. I’m also using heat on my leg each evening to help relax my tight muscle, and then doing some gentle massage on it. I can feel a difference already, but it’ll definitely take time to fully heal. I guess I’ll just have to be patient!

Note: Ehlers-Danlos News is strictly a news and information website about the disease. It does not provide medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. This content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or another qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this website. The opinions expressed in this column are not those of Ehlers-Danlos News or its parent company, BioNews, and are intended to spark discussion about issues pertaining to Ehlers-Danlos.


Patty avatar


Makes complete sense to me, Karen. I found it so important to wear shoes (even tennis shoes) which align my foot/ankle/knee to prevent weird tendonitis in my legs and prevent my ankle from "giving out" causing metatarsal fractures.

This may sound counterintuitive but I also found muscle strengthening to be a huge benefit- as my ligaments are like overcooked spaghetti, my stronger muscles help "hold" things in place, thus decreasing my need for bodywork and absolutely lessens my pain. I hope you are able to try this out- you may think your muscles are strong but you may be favoring some over others. Muscle strengthening has made a huge difference for my hEDS. I hate to see you suffer- I feel your pain Karen! Feel better soon!


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