You just finished a long day at the office–meetings, spreadsheets, phone calls, hours of sitting, even lunch at your desk. Now you face a 45 minute commute home. Your backside is strangely uncomfortable. You feel some numbness followed by tingling then a shot of pain down your leg.
Once you’re home, you lay on your bed with a heating pad and the pain eases a bit. The next day you feel good until you get out of the car after the 45 minute commute. Something is definitely not right here. Sciatica? Muscle strain? Piriformis syndrome? Say WHAT??
Piriformis syndrome is an uncommon neuromuscular disorder that is caused when the piriformis muscle compresses the sciatic nerve. The piriformis muscle is a flat, band-like muscle located in the buttocks near the top of the hip joint. This muscle is important in lower body movement because it stabilizes the hip joint and lifts and rotates the thigh away from the body. This enables us to walk, shift our weight from one foot to another, and maintain balance. It is also used in sports that involve lifting and rotating the thighs — in short, in almost every motion of the hips and legs.
Is chiropractic care an option here? You bet! First, your chiropractor will want to discuss your symptoms and perform a physical exam. Past trauma to the area or extreme activity like long-distance running can cause piriformis syndrome. If the physical exam is inconclusive, an MRI may be needed. The goal is to rule out sciatica or a herniated disc, for example, which produce similar symptoms.
Once piriformis syndrome is confirmed, your chiropractor will recommend a course of treatment. In addition to traditional spinal adjustments, two newer treatments, Active Release Technique (ART) and Theralase®, may be used on the piriformis muscle to stop it from compressing the sciatic nerve. ART is a soft tissue, movement-based massage technique that addresses the main cause of the pain, in this case the piriformis muscle. Theralase is a cold laser treatment. See more about these two methods here.
If the “pain in your butt” is not going away, it may be more than too much sitting. Talk to your chiropractor and get that piriformis muscle back where it belongs.
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