Is it Sciatica or Something Else?
A huge misconception out there is what is causing low back pain. Low back pain can come from numerous sources like muscle strain, bulging or herniated discs, SI joint compression, or piriformis syndrome. Also, they can show very similar symptoms and be tough to diagnose. Let’s particularly look into sciatica and piriformis syndrome. They feel the same, involve the similar body areas, both can give numbing or shooting pain, but are entirely different conditions. Let’s go ahead dive into why they are the same, yet entirely different. (Let the confusion sink in)
First, piriformis syndrome. It sounds more complicated than “sciatica” and the term is not used as often, but in fact, this condition is more common. The piriformis muscle sits right around the sciatic nerve deep in the mid buttock area. When this muscle becomes inflamed, the pressure from the inflammation can apply pressure on the sciatic nerve causing a sharp and shooting pain sensation down the back of the leg. Let’s make something clear though, there’s nothing wrong with the nerve itself, it’s just being pinched!
Next, sciatica. Sciatica can be caused by the root nerve in the back being pinched in the lower spine area where the nerve exits the spinal cord and travels out and down the leg. The pinching can be caused by a herniated disc or a bone growth on the spine. This causes sharp shooting pain down the back of the leg as well.
So, to review, both cause shooting pain, inflammation, hurts to sit, hurts to fully extend the leg (hamstring stretch), and both can be initially treated with ice. So how can we tell the difference? Here’s how…
First, piriformis is a muscle condition, not a nerve problem. With proper stretching and re-activating the muscle (Curastream’s Rehab Piriformis Syndrome Program), the pain will begin to subside very briefly. With sciatica, usually only an image taken of the low pack (CT Scan or MRI) will show if the spine structure is putting pressure on the nerve and appropriate treatment can be given.
The next time you have butt pain, ask yourself, is it Sciatica or Piriformis Syndrome? Please see your Dr., if they feel it’s Sciatica, ask to be referred for an image to make sure, if not rule out piriformis syndrome by using the rehabilitation program with Curastream. Don’t settle and say “oh I have sciatica” (eye roll) be educated and understand what is happening. Low back pain often isn’t just low back pain and sometimes may be more serious than first thought.