Remember The Jokes About Being A Pain In The Butt?

Who'd have known that we could really suffer from such a malady!

For about two years I've suffered from mild to moderate pain deep in the right buttock area, and only occasional numbness. Upon retrospect I've recently realized that it probably started after a hard fall while trying out my new gas-powered pole pruner, cutting a branch too long which sprung off of some lower branches and knocked me to the ground, the butt of the branch digging a big gouge in both legs for good measure. I hit hard (but saved the saw!) it wasn't until the bruises had faded and I'd picked out all the sawdust from the cuts that the pain started in my hip.

Now as time passed I have had a very busy summer with some intensive gardening and the pain has steadily grown so bad that nights have become a nightmare, the area stiffens up and great pain, so that rolling over is a chore and it takes some time for the pain to quiet down after trips to the bathroom. My leg goes numb from hip to top of foot when I get up from sitting, laying or bending over. So far the stretches I've found on the internet have not helped a whole lot. I know that rest is important but I hate sitting or laying around, so I just go at a slower pace.

What I do know is that how your body moves in the walking cycle is important, whether or not your feet pronate properly, how proper your posture is, your diet, your footwear and your bed are all important, too. This problem is a body out of balance and getting back in square is the key.

As I don't have medical insurance or sufficient income, a doctor's care or physical rehab is out for me, but as I learn more about posture, walking gait deficiencies, even anatomy and anything else that a lay person can do to treat this malady I hope to implement it and share it with you who suffer from a quirky ailment known as Piriformis Syndrome or as I like to call it...a big pain in the butt.
czygyny czygyny
56-60, F
6 Responses Sep 29, 2011

I suffered from some of the same symptoms, only mine was called Sciatica. Your same remedies I had to learn myself, like keeping a good posture, keeping a good weight so that your stomach and abdomen doesn't put added stress on your back. My pain went from my lower back down my leg and sometimes it would just get numb.

It's been about a year since I first posted my story. Now I can happily say that the pain has subsided greatly but it has taken the whole year for this to occur. I can rise in the morning with much less pain, the spasms don't take ahold in the evenings and nights are much easier to endure. I have had to slow down my busy pace but I see results. I still have trouble with my leg and foot; numbness, phantom itches and sensations from the nerve impingement, but for those of you like me who can't afford the doctors and physical therapy there is light at the end of the tunnel.<br />
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Time can heal all wounds.

Alrighty, it's been a few weeks since I checked in...but here is my progress so far. I've practiced stretching whenever possible, I have found a few easy to do stretches that work both ends of the piriformis. I can't stretch the end that is attached to the trochanter on the femur, that one is guaranteed to start painful spasms, but I can stretch the pelvis end of it with some good results.<br />
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I don't massage it much, as any pressure to the sciatic notch is guaranteed to make my leg go numb, but I do put heat on it, especially at night. I can sleep on either side, but I find if I sleep on my back, a heating pad under the buttocks area set on low, with my knees supported by pillows, a U-shaped pillow rather than a regular pillow to keep the neck straight, getting up is not quite the painful process that it has become. <br />
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I can still be sure of some excruciating pain upon rising but it does subside after a ten minute morning walk. The rest of the day can be relatively pain free, although sometimes the piriformis just wants to spasm painfully...OTC pain meds seem to be sufficient during these times, but I try to avoid daily use.<br />
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Oddly enough, my whole leg seems to feel better after a good episode of digging or turning over compost piles, but walking and just standing seems to be the most likely things to cause spasms...guess I'll just have to spend more time with a shovel and garden fork. ;-)

Here is my story. Two years ago in 2009 I had a severe fall on concrete. As a result I damaged the ligaments that held my right sacroiliac joint in place. This caused immediate problems.(back spasms, buttox spasms, groin pain and sciatica that traveled down my foot. I tried months of chiropractic care, therapy, massage but nothing was helping. A CT was ordered of my pelvis. This confirmed the source of my troubles. The joint was widening and eroding away. We're talking Bone scraping on bone. I was treated at the UCLA medical center where they fused my right SI joint. That surgery was 100% succesful at eliminating my back pain, however, the butt and leg pain continued. I returned to my surgeon on August 14 and after his exam he diagnosed me as having Periformus syndrome. He then referred me to Dr Aaron Filler(neurosurgeon) in Santamonica, CA for a Periformus release. <br />
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After a thorough new patient exam, I returned home to Spokane,WA with orders for a Periformus injection and a special kind of MRI called an MRN.(Magnetic resonance Neurography) MRI takes detailed pictures of tissues. MRN takes detailed pictures of nerves and can show inflammation. Dr. Filler uses this imaging to visually confirm Periformus syndrome by looking for irritation at the Siatic Notch.<br />
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After viewing the images we scheduled a phone appointment about 10 days later. Since it is now well over 2 years since my initial injury and I have not responded to conservative treatment we scheduled a November 1oth operation for a periformus release. Dr. Filler is a world leader in this kind of nerve surgery and so I have high hopes. Please follow me on my journey.

piercealison, I hope you much success on your surgery. It won't be an option for me, I'll either figure it out myself or live with the pain, but I will watch in interest to see, and hope for a positive outcome for your treatment!

piercealison, I encourage you to start your own story on the Piriformis section so that your adventure is not lost deep inside mine!

It's around a week later since my last message. The constant pain, the peculiar spasms that didn't so much hurt but felt like the bizarre crawling of small creatures deep in the tissue have subsided.<br />
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I've worked hard to try stretches and the self message, also oblique crunches (try that for an exercise and see how it engages the piriformis!) and refraining from strenuous work, although I still did plenty of walking and made it a conscious point to NOT limp or favor that side in any way. <br />
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I had no idea just how much I favored my right side until now, and I am very surprised that I can feel the atrophy around that area compared to the unaffected left side, the muscle has withered! Yikes! Can it be restored? I don't know!

I've found a good article that gives some sound advice on care of piriformis woes. I think most of us have gone past the initial stage, but it shows a good diagram of the muscle and the second and third parts gives some information on self help.<br />
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I truly believe that the more you understand about your body and the particular part that is giving you the most trouble the quicker you can find a way to heal the muscle.<br />
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I am a big fan of stretches even though it hasn't helped much this time around, but I think this is one of the keys to healing this troublesome ailment.<br />
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I often use a hard rubber dog ball on a string to use as a deep muscle massager, using the wall and string as leverage to hold the ball as I move back and forth to massage from head down to my hips and upper legs. It is a tricky and somewhat humorous way to self-massage, but it has been effective.<br />
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I decided that I would try something similar with a 3 lb dumbbell and also a round 2 lb deep-sea steel ball sinker to massage the deep-seated muscle and surrounding area as I lay on my side. The weight is needed to get the pressure down past the outer thick hip muscles. Roll it around finding the tender spots and gently work out the 'kinks'.<br />
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So far after just one session the area has stopped the spasm pains and seemed to give a bit of relief. I apply heat to the area afterwards.