Pain in the butt! (and legs)

Pain in the butt! (and legs)

Piriformis

Many people have had sciatic pain from time to time; that numbness, tingle and deep pain that can stay with you for days and interfere with your ability to work, sleep and enjoy your usual activities.

 What causes this pain in the butt? It could be piriformis syndrome.

Piriformis syndrome is characterized by buttock and/or hip pain that may radiate into the leg as a form of sciatica. This syndrome is thought to result from spasm of the piriformis which causes irritation of the sciatic nerve as it passes across (or through) the muscle.

Tightness or asymmetries in the piriformis muscle can create rotational pelvic imbalances.  The pain usually arises from overuse: health club, athletics, heavy work, or prolonged sitting, though traumatic causes are also reasonably common, including automobile accidents and falls.

The mainstay of treatment involves stretching the piriformis and its neighboring external hip rotators, as well as regular massage therapy. Soft-tissue massage to the gluteal and lumbosacral regions may help to decrease tightness of the piriformis and reduce irritation of the sciatic nerve.

In addition to massage, try the following at home:

  • Before arising from bed, roll side to side and flex and extend the knees while lying on each side. This exercise can be repeated for a total of 5 minutes.

  • Rotate side to side while standing with the arms relaxed for 1 minute every few hours.

  • Take a warm Epsom salt bath with the full body (to the shoulders) immersed.

  • Lie flat on the back and pedal the legs as if riding a bicycle by raising the hips with the hands.

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