Anyone who has experienced back pain can vouch for the fact that it can be agonizing and even debilitating. One condition, that can be responsible for back pain is piriformis syndrome. Simply put, it occurs when the piriformis muscle aggravates the sciatic nerve. The result is pain, frequently referred to as sciatica, in the buttocks and along the sciatic nerve. The muscle is located along the top of the hip joint and helps with lateral rotation and abduction. For instance, it allows you to balance on one foot, and move the opposite foot laterally away from the body while pointing your toes in an upward direction. This muscle is important because it allows the body to balance and enables walking and the shifting of body weight from one foot to the other. The sciatic nerve usually runs beneath the muscle; however, for a small group of individuals, it actually runs through it. For those individuals, sciatica occurs much more commonly.
Often individuals experiencing the kind of back pain described have questions surrounding their condition. It is always wise to seek the advice of a qualified medical professional before attempting treatments and remedies that may cause greater harm and possible injury to the body.
If you have experienced conditions similar to those described above, you might consider seeking advice from a medical professional such as a Doctor of Osteopathy (DO). DOs can often use osteopathic manipulative treatment (OMT) to access patient conditions and determine more natural healing for the body. Below are some frequently asked questions and answers about piriformis syndrome.
What are the symptoms? Individuals usually report feelings of numbness, tingling and pain primarily in the gluteal area. While the severity of pain can vary, it is generally intense and experienced as sciatica. These symptoms can result from a variety of activities, including running and sitting.
How is a diagnosis determined? This condition can often be misdiagnosed. Since there is no one single test or exam to identify it, most diagnoses are based on reports of pain with movement, isolated instances of muscular pain in the area of the piriformis muscle, or history of traumatic injury. Physicians may order radiological exams to help determine a diagnosis.
How is it treated? Individuals may find that the use of heat, cold and rest provide some relief of pain symptoms. Constant pain may mean that certain physical activities must cease. Sometimes various stretches and exercises can be considered as part of the treatment regimen. An osteopathic physician may determine that musculoskeletal management is a more preferred treatment alternative than injections and surgery.
What can be done to prevent the condition? Any activities that might stress this area of the lower back, for instance heavy lifting, should be avoided. This can also include sports liking running-especially on uneven surfaces. It is always a good idea to stretch and warm up before any type of exercise to avoided added stress to muscles. Individuals should be cognizant of their posture and form while sitting and even walking. Getting the proper amount of sleep on a good, firm mattress may also be helpful. Use of a pillow positioned between the legs, when sleeping or resting, can also relieve pressure to this area.
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