Friday, March 11, 2011

Pain in the Butt!.

I've had a pain in the butt for years. No, it's not Jesper - he's the antithesis of a pain in the butt! It's a dull ache in the middle of my right buttock, with pain sometimes extending down my leg to the back of my knee. I've had a pretty good idea what it is for some time now, but today I finally got around to having an official doctor's diagnosis.


For a tiny little muscle, that darn piriformis sure can cause a lot of problems.

Piriformis means "pear shaped", although I think it looks more leaf shaped. There it is, highlighted in a posterior view of the right buttock and leg. It can get inflamed/irritated from activities like running and become sore. It can also press up against the nearby sciatic nerve and create shooting pain down the back of the leg. Trust me - that's no fun! In addition to the pain, the syndrome causes diminished strength and range of motion.

I'm not quite sure why it's taken me so long to see a doctor about this; probably because I think I should be able to fix this myself through smart training and stretching. But I haven't been smart enough to fix it and I was beginning to dread the havoc it might wreak on my training for another ultramarathon this summer. Already, a hard day of skiing, running or swimming leaves my butt hurting. Last year while training for my first ultramarathon, it bothered me most of the time (day and night), although oddly enough, it rarely impacted my mileage. However the problem is not getting any better andI fear it's only time before it causes a whole host of other imbalances that will result in injuries that limit my ability to do the things I love.

So, I finally went to the doctor. As a first step, she prescribed PT, mostly to address lack of flexibility and strength in my hips. I can't wait to get started (how many people actually look forward to PT?). The best thing is I don't have to stop or slow down on my many activities while I do therapy! I am hopeful this takes care of the pain in my butt!


Barb said...

I had piriformis issues while marathoning. Massage really really helps. Gets in there and digs good. Gotta find a sports massage therapist though, someone that's not afraid of the buttocks area. I can recommend a guy in NJ but that's not going to help ya!

jl__82 said...

i am going through the EXACT same thing right now. I had the conditions of sciatica forever and finally realized it was because of piriformis syndrome. Thats how i found this and i just wanted to share my UNREAL success. my problem is my left side, and i learned about this tissue that surrounds your muscles, and when this tissue starts to get tight it tightens the muscles and in our case its tightening the piriformis muscle and choking the sciatic nerve. well the way to ease the the stiffness of the tissue is called "Myofascial release" Literally most people know it as the tennis ball trick. I use a kong (dog toy) ball because it is really hard and gets deep. What i do is get out a yoga mat and lay on my left side and put the ball on the outside of my butt and roll around until i feel the "spot" when it hurts, but it kinda feels good. all you do is when you find that spot, try to relax, because in the beginning it can really hurt depending how tight the muscle is, and wait for about 30 seconds your "trigger point" on the ball. then you keep looking for more spots that you can feel the same pain, and hold the ball for 30 seconds. they are called trigger points, and they release the tissue. google it, you will be very pleased. i have had this for over 8 YEARS. i tried chiropractor, accupuncture, physical therapy, everything. After a week i feel 30% better, and i actually was swinging a golf club today, and i could walk without a limp, and i feel 6 inches taller. i hope it helps someone....

Peter said...

I've had this condition for years, on my left side. I can absolutely vouch for the tennis ball trick but make sure you use a newer one vs. one that's old and unpressurized. Ice after a long workout helps too, not only for reducing inflammation in the area but also for stimulating blood flow after the ice is removed. Finally, the "pigeon pose" mentioned at seems to help. I'd be interested in any helpful stretches that work for you.

Itty Bitty Betty said...

Thanks everyone for your suggestions!

Barb - I get a deep massage every two weeks. It does help, but I clearly need more help!

jl-82 - I sit on a tennis ball in my car and at work. I clearly need more help!

Peter - I am so so about icing (although once I get to runs longer than 12 miles I am religious about ice baths) and I also do pigeon and many other similar poses in my 3x a week yoga classes. I clearly need more help!