Do you suffer from sciatica? The intense pain of this unpleasant condition is often associated with back pain generally. However the symptoms of sciatica, dull or sometimes sharp pains, throbbing sensations and other discomfort running anywhere between the buttock and the foot, can be the result of more than one physical problem. One obvious cause of sciatica is spinal disc displacement imposing pressure on the sciatic nerve, with pain in the immediate locality of the disc problem in addition to the consequential sciatica; and this will be typical lower back pain sciatica.
This is well known and is the form that may most often be diagnosed by the medical practitioner, but other causes of sciatica should also be considered. This is where difficulties may arise, because it is possible to have a disc problem without any sciatica, and similarly to have what might be disc created sciatica but with no back pain and only sciatica. Or the problem could be caused by the piriformis muscle.
The symptoms of what is known as piriformis syndrome, so far as buttock and leg pains are concerned, can resemble those of lower back pain sciatica. The piriformis muscle is situated in the buttock and in part protects the sciatic nerve where it runs from the back to the leg. Sometimes the nerve runs very close to or right through the piriformis muscle and this can be the start of difficulties. For example the piriformis muscle may contract or be in spasm and then it will impose on the sciatic nerve. There may be pain in the buttock, in the leg, especially in the back of the leg, and perhaps numbness in part of the leg also, and all this can be caused by the piriformis muscle.
Previously the piriformis syndrome was not well diagnosed and the problem was not even recognized in some medical circles. But the syndrome is now acknowledged to be a serious cause of sciatica and should be as carefully considered as the source of the problem as the better known lower back pain sciatica. Nonetheless there can still be failure to give sufficient attention to piriformis syndrome when investigating sciatica, by some physicians, due sometimes to insufficient understanding of the matter.
Sciatica for any reason can frequently be treated successfully in a number of ways and it is always important to attempt to achieve a cure with non invasive methods wherever possible. Surgery should only ever be a last resort. Certainly before anything so radical as disc laminectomy is undergone with all its potential disadvantages, the other possible investigations and diagnosis should be exhausted. Clearly an operation to cure disc protrusion sciatica will be quite futile if what you are suffering from is really piriformis syndrome.
Some typical symptoms which you should consider when trying to decide whether you may be suffering from piriformis syndrome are pain in the buttock, the discomfort in the back of the leg described before, and a painful muscle spasm or tenderness in the buttock evident when pressure is applied to it. The difficulty is that none of these are conclusive in the diagnosis of the condition. But this should not deter you from giving careful attention to the possibility that your painful problems may be the result of piriformis sciatica and not lower back pain sciatica.
Whichever may be the cause of your sciatica it is reassuring to know that in the great majority of cases appropriate therapy, often just appropriately focussed exercises, will provide radical improvement in your condition. As to this the focus of each exercise does need to be directed to the problem whether it is piriformis or lower back pain sciatica. General exercise, walking, swimming etc., although good and a source of some relief, will not get to the root of the malfunction. Specific exercises are needed for lower back pain sciatica, and piriformis exercises and stretching for problems generated by the piriformis muscle.
For more information about lower back pain and sciatica please visit lower-back-sprain. Please bear in mind that this article is for general information purposes only and is not medical advice about your health. If you have a medical condition or problem you should always consult your doctor as to the matter which may be more serious than you realise.