One of the most commonly treated symptoms I see as a therapist is Sciatica or Piriformis syndrome. I thought it only fitting to include information on this as I have so many calls for help from all walks of life experiencing the discomfort and pain of it.
Sciatica occurs when one of the spinal nerve roots of the sciatic nerve is compressed, resulting in lower back pain, gluteal pain (buttock), and leg/foot pain. The sciatic nerve is the largest in the body, extending from the lumbar spine to the soles of your feet and is approximately the same width as your thumb.
Usually, only one side of the body is affected by this condition, caused by irritation or compression of a nerve that sends pain signals throughout this region. Through conservative treatment methods and careful manipulation of the muscles and joints, the pain can become manageable, minimal, and, in most cases, disappear; however, the pain can persist for several months despite careful treatment.
Most people characterise sciatic pain as a large, shooting pain in the lower back, buttock, or leg. Sensations of numbness, burning, or tingling are also used to characterise the issue. Long periods of sitting, movement, sneezing, or coughing can aggravate the discomfort.
The sciatic nerve has five exit sites at the spinal column: L4, L5, S1, S2, and S3. The location/path of pain is often determined by which spinal nerve is afflicted.
Sciatic treatment begins with diagnosing the cause of your sciatica, whether a herniated or enlarged disc in the spine, causing irritation and pain to the nerve. The assessment will be followed by implementing a series of techniques designed to alleviate pain promptly. Continued treatment and alterations to your seated and standing posture will continue to calm nerve compression, realign the disc, and aid recovery.
The Piriformis is a gluteal (buttocks) muscle. The Piriformis runs directly over the sciatic nerve; however, in some individuals, the Piriformis runs beneath the sciatic nerve.
If the Piriformis is ‘stiff,’ this may result in compression of the sciatic nerve, resulting in the same symptoms and sensations already mentioned. Massage, dry needling, stretching, anti-inflammatory medication, muscle relaxants, and refraining from activities that can aggravate the muscle, such as running and cycling, are beneficial treatments for Piriformis Syndrome.
Piriformis strain can be alleviated by strengthening the Glute Max, Medius, and Hamstrings.
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