Sciatic Pain

That Pain in your Butt…Sciatic Pain

The most common complaint for low back pain is “Sciatica”.  Through my training I have discovered that “Sciatica” is more often a symptom, not a diagnosis.  By definition, to be Sciatica there must been a nerve impingement that sends sharp electrical pain down the back of the leg from the hip all the way to the little toe.  There are many kinds of similar pain that starts in the hip or low back and go down the leg; and thus many causes. In my experience, all these kinds are labeled “Sciatic Pain” and then finding an effective treatment is tricky. 

The biggest culprit in all these types of Pain is the Piriformis muscle. It sits deep in your butt, under your Gluteus Maximus.  Depending on the “abundance” in your life, some of us have deeper to go to find our piriformis ;) The stretches we do where one ankle is brought up over the other knee helps stretch the piriformis and should be done everyday.  Depending on your body, the Sciatic nerve runs under or though the Piriformis muscle and any tightness in this muscle will impinge/put pressure on your nerve.  One way to tell if your Piriformis is tight, before you suffer from the nerve issues, is to stand normally and look at your toes. If you stand with your toes turned out, then your Piriformis needs more attention. As the muscle tightens it pulls on the hip, rotating your femur/thigh bone reflected in the position of your toes.

When stretching your Piriformis you must take care of your knee. Remember that the knee is a hinge joint and not designed to twist. If the hip or Piriformis is tight and we enter into the stretch too deep, the hip won’t be able to move any farther, and in our rush, we will transfer the pull to the knee, stretching our ligaments.  Over time, or maybe in a hurry, we will feel a pop and now have knee issues to address.

Daily stretching, massage or Acupuncture can call help. Regular stretching is the best way to prevent any issues.  One minute of stretching each Piriformis/hip will save you in the long run.  If you already have tight hips and want to get to the source have a massage therapist get through your Glutes to your Piriformis and/or an Acupuncturist do muscle release needling.  Best case, stretch daily, seek assistance if you have tightness, and whatever you do don’t wait until the Pain has settled into your joint.  We don’t have to age with Pain.  Our body’s change but we can choose to keep them happier as we age together.

by: Reg Nugent BSc, MA

Acupuncturist, American College of Sports Medicine certified

 Meridian Health Centre  |   780 428 8897   |  10990 - 124 St.  Edmonton, Alberta T5M 0H8