Dr. Andrew Arnold talks about the common misconceptions around the Piriformis and Sciatic pain.
We see many people who present with pain in their gluteal region which sometimes radiates down the leg, and sometimes all the way to the foot.
This may not necessarily be cause for alarm.
I’d like to introduce you to the Piriformis muscle.
This is located just under the large gluteal muscle and is part of a group of other muscles that help take your hip and leg outwards, what we call external rotation.
It is in fact, the largest muscle in this group.
You have probably heard of the sciatic nerve. This is the largest nerve in the body, almost the same thickness as a whiteboard marker.
It is made of 5 spinal levels coming from your low back (Lumbar spine) and tailbone or sacrum.
Its course is tortuous, exiting from the pelvis, then either piercing the Piriformis muscle or traveling underneath it as it then progresses down the leg all the way to the foot.
We tend to sit and compress this muscle as we slouch in front of our PC’s. You may have noticed a tingly foot after sitting for a time. You are most likely compressing your Piriformis muscle and sciatic nerve along with it.
Over time this muscle can become chronically tense and as a result, shorten. This shortening can lead to chronic sciatic nerve irritation which can then lead to chronic radiating pain and tingling down your leg and maybe to the foot.
What’s important here is this doesn’t often involve any spinal dysfunction although it may imitate a disc-related problem.
Your Chiropractor is best placed to help you differentially diagnose this condition and manage a treatment plan.
Often times this involves releasing the piriformis muscle itself and re-aligning the pelvis and sacrum where the muscle attaches.
Your Chiropractor may then provide you with exercises and stretches to help maintain optimal functioning of this muscle.
Finally, I advise my patients to re-assess their work stations and posture. As mentioned sitting on this muscle will only serve to further compress and aggravate the Piriformis and then potentially cause sciatic-like pain.
For further information call our reception on 5998 4554.
About the Author:
Dr. Andrew Arnold is a Chiropractor at Cranbourne Family Chiropractic and Wellness Ctr.