#870 First 3 steps when runners feel a lump in the leg - DOC

#870 First 3 steps when runners feel a lump in the leg

Today on the Doc On The Run Podcast, we’re talking about the three steps you should do as the very first thing when you feel a weird lump in your calf muscle.



I was doing a second opinion consultation with a runner and he had an issue that was interesting. Now, first of all, it wasn’t really specifically limiting his running. In fact, when he was running, this lump that he had in his calf actually felt better, not worse. So, you have to wonder like, is it really a big deal? Is it really not a big deal?

I’m not going to go into all the different things that this could be and you certainly can’t just guess what it is because there are some really worrisome things that could be and there are also some very, not worrisome things that it could be.

But anytime you have anything weird, obviously as a runner, you’re trying to figure out is this dangerous? Is it really going to mess up my running? Is it going to make me worse, so I can’t run later? Or what do I have to do? There’s a lot of confusion stuff that can happen and there are really three things that I think is the most important things that you can do immediately if you notice a lump in the leg.

The first thing is that you want to compare it to the other leg and what I mean is that you don’t want to just look at it or feel it. You want to actually really compare, and you want to take pictures. If it’s in your calf muscle, it’s really hard to look at that with your feet in a natural position because you look away from your calves, not at them. And if you rotate, twist, turn bend over, bend your leg, bend your knee or whatever, you change the position of the calf muscle.

The best way to do that is to stand in even light and actually take pictures or have someone else take picture of you straight on from behind so that you get an accurate picture of both of the calf muscles so that you can compare them in the same light. You don’t want the light coming from the side. You want the light the same way looking at it. And why should you do that? Well, the first thing is, is that you want to know what it looks like when you first noticed it, because over time it might change. It might get better or worse but having those pictures on day one is extremely useful information and you can never go back and get them later. It doesn’t work. The second thing you should do is you should measure it. I know you’re probably thinking, well how can you measure something on the inside of the leg underneath the skin? It’s really simple. There’s a technique that I use that you can do too. All you do is if you find a lump, you can feel it, let’s say feels like a kidney being under the skin. Well, what you do is you poke around until you feel it and you get it sort of centered between your thumbs and if you actually push inward with your thumbs and it makes a little line we’re thumbnails push into the skin at either end of it. Well then you actually draw a line where that is, take a photograph of it, preferably with a ruler on the skin right next to it.

What does that do? Well, it gives you an actual way to measure how big it is or how big it feels because you can replicate that same process later. So, if it changes size, you’ll be able to look at that photograph you’ll have a date of the photograph and you’ll be able to compare it later. It’s really important because over time, the most important thing to tell is it something like a sarcoma that could be a very dangerous cancer. Well, those get bigger, they certainly don’t get smaller. And if you have one that gets smaller, well maybe it’s just a ganglion cyst. But what how those things behave over time tells us a lot about what it might actually be.

The next thing is that if you’re not worried about it. You think it’s nothing. You’re not really concerned about it. Your doctor doesn’t think anything’s wrong and he dismisses it. Let’s say you go see a doctor like this is nothing this is almost certainly not a sarcoma. It’s not anything dangerous. You don’t have a tear in the muscle, you don’t have a tear in the fascia. You don’t have any of these things that are worrisome. Don’t worry about it. So, you get one of those two minute doctor visits and leaves you with more questions and answers. Well, then you should try something, not a bunch of things. You should try one thing, only one thing at a time.

Maybe you try massage. If you have some cross linking in the muscle fibers and that’s why you have this lump, that will break it up and it will improve. It will feel better. It will get smaller. Or you try compression, if it’s related to soft tissue swelling, and you wear compression socks, it squeezes and pushes the fluid out and it gets smaller. Sarcomas don’t get smaller just because you put socks on. Cancer will not go away because you put stockings on. It doesn’t work that way. Or you apply ice if it’s related to swelling. Well, when you ice it, the swelling goes down and the lump gets smaller. And how do you know if the lung gets smaller? Because it looks smaller in your pictures and it looks smaller when you measure it.

Those are some really simple things that you can do right away. Of course, if you have a lump that you think might be cancer in your leg, don’t watch a YouTube video and think that you made a good decision. Go see a doctor. Don’t ignore your doctor’s advice. Make sure you seek medical treatment when you need it. But even if you’re waiting for a doctor’s appointment you can still do all of these things right now to try to figure out whether or not this thing is going to change even between today and the day you actually see that doctor.

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