Performing a daily piriformis stretch can be an excellent way to manage the pain of sciatica when your pain is caused by the piriformis muscle.
While the piriformis muscle is a common cause of sciatica, it is not the only cause.
"understand the anatomy"
When you are trying to relieve the pain of sciatica by stretching your piriformis muscle it is important to understand the anatomy and the other possible causes of sciatica.
The sciatic nerve is the largest nerve in the body and it runs from the posterior pelvis through the buttock and into the thigh. It is formed by the joining of several nerve roots after they exit the lumbar spine.
As the sciatic nerve passes into the lower thigh it divides into the smaller nerves that go to the lower leg and foot.
"many conditions that may place pressure on the sciatic nerve"
Sciatica is caused by an irritation of the sciatic nerve. In most cases this irritation is caused by pressure, but there are many conditions that may place pressure on the sciatic nerve.
Lumbar spinal stenosis, degenerative disc disease, or a herniated disc in the lumbar spine can cause sciatica by squeezing the nerve roots that form the sciatic nerve.
"warmed up and stretched properly"
As the sciatic nerve passes through the large muscles of the buttock it passes underneath the piriformis muscle. When this muscle is short and tight it can put pressure on the sciatic nerve causing the pain of piriformis sciatica.
If the piriformis muscle is not warmed up and stretched properly before participating in athletic events it may place pressure on the sciatic nerve causing sciatica.
"in some cases just walking on uneven ground"
Some people seem to be more susceptible to this than others and in some cases just walking on uneven ground without adequate stretching is enough to cause the pain of sciatica.
Piriformis stretches may be accomplished with piriformis stretching exercises or with hamstring stretching exercises. These stretches may be done sitting in a chair or lying supine on the floor or on an exercise mat.
These exercises should be done 2 to 3 times per day when you are experiencing the pain of piriformis sciatica. Once your pain has resolved one time a day should be enough to prevent recurrence of your symptoms.
If you are prone to piriformis syndrome or piriformis sciatica you should always do these exercises before participating in any sports.
"piriformis stretches can be used as a diagnostic tool"
Piriformis sciatica is often difficult to separate from other causes of sciatica, but these stretches can be used as a diagnostic tool.
Stretching the piriformis muscle can help you determine if your sciatica is being caused by the piriformis muscle.
If you do these exercises consistently 2 to 3 times per day for two weeks you should notice some change in your symptoms. They may not be gone completely, but these exercises should affect your sciatica. If after two weeks you have not noticed any change you need to consider other possible causes.
If no other causes of sciatica can be found, some doctors will recommend steroid injections or surgery to relieve the pressure on the sciatic nerve.
"treatment should begin with piriformis stretches"
Piriformis syndrome treatment should begin with piriformis stretches. The stretches have very little risk of complications or adverse side effects and they can be very effective treatment for your symptoms.