is this piriformis????

Discussions related to Sciatica and Leg Pain
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Posts: 11
Joined: Tue Aug 29, 2006 5:23 pm
Location: Austin, Texas

is this piriformis????

Post by tomcat » Tue Aug 29, 2006 5:47 pm

Hi all - am new to the group and fairly new to this problem. looks like most folks give a little history, so here's mine. back pain started about 5 months ago, with fairly bad sciatica about 3 - 4 weeks later. saw a spinal specialist who got an MRI and refered me to PT for a month. the MRI shower a torn disk (L5-S1) with a small bulge in the disk just above that one (i guess L4-L5). the PT helped a lot. back felt fine, sciatica was better, but still painful. the specialist sent me to a chiro for spinal decompression. i finished 20 sessions last month. maybe a little better, but not much. the chiro now thinks that since i didn't respond to the decompression, it must be piriformis. (sorry for the long entry - hope someone is still reading). most of my symptoms are like a lot of others i've read on this forum (pain in butt and upper leg. tingling in calf and foot), but mine goes away after i lay down. almost no pain in the morning, starts hurting in the afternoon and gets worse all evening. really hurts to sit for long. advil is great and is about 99% effective. just got the RYB book and started the basic exercises today. guess if it improves in a week or so, this will be answered. tired of all this and looking for something to work.

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Post by randolph » Fri Sep 01, 2006 9:51 pm

Hi Tomcat!

I read with great interest your detailed info on your experiences with sciatica. Thanks, and welcome to the forum. We're all learning here, and many of us are apparently recovering from sciatica. It really helps to read the experiences of other sciatica sufferers, to see what works and what doesn't, and is especially helpful to find out that there is realistic hope to return to a decent life. Sciatica is definitely more than a bump in the road ... but thankfully, not the end of the road.

I am very interested because your symptoms were/are remarkably similar to mine. I sabotagued my own healing and rebuilding efforts by trying to do too much too early. At first (for several months) I thought the idea was to do as much as I could, enduring as much pain as possible (the old "no pain-no gain" idea ... which is wrong for us). Now I know the idea is to do as much as I can until a very low level of nerve (not muscular) pain accompanies the activity. It takes a while to learn what that low level is, but doing any more, just delays the whole rebuilding process. It's easy to see why so many folks opt for the quick (but risky)fix of a microdiscectomy, and you can't blame them if they are also suffering from a lot of pain. But if your pain isn't too bad, and you've got the patience, the nerve will heal, and you will gradually be able to do more and more. It just doesn't seem possible to "push" the rebuilding process: nerves take longer to heal than other tissues (Dean says 6 months, some docs say even a few years) ... and they heal in their own, unknowable time. Dean says it in his books: first the damaged tissues need to heal, then we can begin the rebuilding efforts. After I reinjured my back last April, I finally just had to mostly rest and minimize my activity (not even do the basic exercises) for a month. Then, as Dean recommended, I did the basic exercises for a month before adding the others.

Whether the sciatic nerve is being compressed by your damaged discs (as the MRI seems to indicate) or by the piriformis muscle, the referred leg/butt pain we call sciatica, indicates nerve damage ... which often takes more than 5 months to heal. That may account for the ineffectiveness of your IDD treatments ... too much too early?

Dean has a couple good piriformis stretches. Ken recommends another good one. I do them regularly and notice improvement. But the key (this is getting to be my mantra lately): if it causes nerve type pain while doing it, back off. It may be macho to try to push thru the pain ... but that only damages the nerve more ... and worsens the problem.

Good luck with your rebuilding efforts, and please keep us appraised of your progress!!


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