Sciatica and Piriformis Muscle Syndrome

Tess Thompson



Back pain has the potential of hampering your daily work schedule. It often restricts mobility and hinders the daily routine. Getting a proper diagnosis is a must before seeking any back care treatment. If the discomfort is found to be sciatic pain it will require a specific course of treatment.

The sciatic nerve is located in front of the piriformis muscle in the buttocks region, including the lowest two nerves that extend from the lower spine (L4 and L5) and the first three sacral nerves (S1, S2 and S3). Both the nerves branch out on each side of the spine. The root of each nerve exits the spine between two vertebra in the lower back, travels down the back of each leg, and branches out to the leg and into each foot. Sciatic pain that radiates along this nerve can be dibilitating and in many patients, impairs strength and vitality.

Sciatic pain is caused by various conditions that adversely affect the sciatic nerve, the longest nerve in the body. It can be affected by a number of physical contortions that happen in the vertebrae and in the case of tumors or infections. One such condition - sometimes called pseudo-sciatica - that is often confused with sciatica is the piriformis syndrome. This produces symptoms similar to sciatica. But, the pilformis muscle related pain is actually caused by compression of the peripheral sections of the nerve, usually from the tension in the soft tissue in the piriformis or related muscles. Sciatic nerve treatment falls in an entirely different segment than other conditions that arouse pain. The type of treatment that will be prescribed depends on which condition has caused the sciatic nerve to be compressed.

Piriformis syndrome exists when the piriformis muscle shortens, or spasms due to a trauma and strangles the sciatic nerve underneath. The pain arising from this is similar to sciatica - a tingling and numbness than often runs from the low back to the rear, down the leg and to the foot. Correctly identifying the cause of the pain is important to determine the most effective sciatic nerve treatment. This avoids complicating the condition because of a misdirected treatment.

All sciatic nerve treatments are aimed at reducing nerve compression. In cases where sciatica is piriformis related, muscle stretching exercises, massage, and mobilization techniques form an integral part of sciatica alternative remedies. The general aim of such therapies is to lessen pain and minimize infection by loosening the tense muscles. In many cases a pillow wedge proves to be quite helpful in achieving the goal of easing pain arising from this strangulation of the sciatic nerve by the piriformis muscle.

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