I am asked on a near regular basis on what to do about sciatic pains. There are a few thoughts that I have regarding this. I marvel at how frequently people suffer from sciatic, and am equally surprised at how little people know about how to treat it. I have had some patients that have had such severe pain, that it was necessary for shots to help take away the sharpness of the pain, but on a more common basis, the shots are completely unnecessary. I have had colleagues focus completely on the spine as the place of correction, but are not successful in treating the problem.
The Overlooked Piriformis Muscle
It’s true that the nerves the make up the sciatic nerve do come from the spine, but there is such an overlooked area that is responsible for the majority of the pain than anything else. The culprit is the piriformis muscle. The sciatic nerve penetrates the muscle making it susceptible to the health and condition of that muscle. If it is too tight, it clamps down on the nerve like a pair of pliers. So the real question is, how does the piriformis muscle become too tight. The answer is….sitting. When we sit for any period of time, the pelvis stretches out opening the pelvic cavity. When we stretch out the pelvis, the piriformis muscle which is critical for stability of the pelvis, reacts. As with any muscle that is stretched, it will contract.
If you sit for a long period of time, the muscle will contract more intensely and aggressively. So when you stand up, it goes into a state called hypertonicity, or a muscle that is too tight. This is where you clamp down on the nerve, and this is the origin or your sciatic nightmare. So if a muscle become too tight, then solution is to stretch it. Maybe at this point, you are saying, but stretching the muscle is what caused this problem in the first place, wouldn’t stretching it just make it worse. It’s true that stretching it may make it worse, if you are stretching it the same way that caused the problem. However, if you were to first isolate the offending muscle and stretch it in an appropriate manner, then you will actually begin the process of alleviating the hypertonicity and actually start the process of living life pain free.
How do you stretch the piriformis muscle? If you were to get onto YouTube, I’m sure that there are many stretches that could demonstrate, but if you want an effective stretch, then call us and make an appointment. 435-674-7515 could possibly be the most important number you will have to eliminate the pain in your……
Dr. Spencer Andersen, DC, BCAO