Piriformis Syndrome – A Different Approach

Piriformis Syndrome and Sciatica

Piriformis syndrome is NOT just about stretching your low back. It is often caused by a problem coming from your feet and your upper neck. Clear Chiropractic is an upper cervical specialist practice in Spokane, Washington that is a natural alternative for helping people with low back pain.

If you’re looking for a different approach to treat piriformis syndrome, have you ever considered the possibility that muscles tightness is not the actual problem?

That the origin of the problem is coming from somewhere else?

If so, you can do all the stretches, massages, trigger points, low back treatments and injections  in the world … but the problem keeps coming back.

This pattern reveals your piriformis syndrome is symptom – a compensation – for something else in your body. Therefore, a counterintuitive approach is required. Here is where a unique approach to healthcare known as the Blair technique can help.


The Cause of Piriformis Syndrome and Sciatica

Piriformis syndrome occurs when the piriformis muscle that attaches your tailbone (sacrum) to your hip becomes chronically tight. It produces a sharp, burning sensation on your backside whenever you sit, stand, walk or run … a literal pain in the ass!

Piriformis syndrome can also produce irritation of the sciatic nerve, which leads to sciatica and a list of associated problems:

Here’s the important thing to understand about piriformis syndrome: the piriformis is a muscle. And all muscles in the body only do what they are told to do by your brain and the nerves that control them.

So when you have chronic tightness of a muscle, it means that your brain is causing that muscle to be tight in the first place. In other words, that muscle is tight on purpose. This suggests that piriformis syndrome is an effect, not a cause.

Therefore, any treatment that focuses solely on treating the tight muscle will only have temporary improvements unless you can determine why that muscle is tight in the first place.


Why does my Piriformis muscle get tight?

Think of your piriformis muscle as a tension cable that balances the alignment of your sacrum. The sacrum is the foundation for your spinal column. If the sacrum is unbalanced, it can destabilize your entire spine above, which leads to arthritis, disc bulges, low back pain, upper back pain, neck pain and even scoliosis.

The key point here is that muscle tightness is your body’s least-bad option to compensate for problems it can’t quite fix on its own. Otherwise, the problem goes on to affect your joints, ligaments, bones and nerves.

This is one reason why pirifiromis stretches feel good when you do them, but why the results typically don’t last.

So the million-dollar question is, “What is causing the sacrum to become imbalanced in the first place?”

There are two common, and often counterintuitive reasons:

  1. You have an imbalance traveling upward coming from your feet
  2. You have an imbalance traveling downward coming from your neck


How your Feet can cause a tight Piriformis

This one is a little easier to visualize. Your feet, ankles and legs are shock absorbers and struts that hold your pelvis upright. However, if you have a mechanical problem with your feet where things aren’t moving properly, the tension travels up your legs, destabilizes your pelvis, and causes your piriformis to tighten as a compensation.

Even if you don’t have flat feet, collapsed arches or have ever sprained your ankle, almost every human being has rolled an ankle at some point in their life.

If this rolling tweaks any of the ligaments in your ankles and causes one of the six major bones to become locked in an abnormal position, it can change the way that you stand and walk. Over time, this repetitive stress accumulates and causes the piriformis muscle to reflexively tighten.

Especially if you experience piriformis syndrome only when you are upright (i.e., standing, walking or running), this is a sign that the problem is coming from your feet.


How your Neck can cause a tight Piriformis

On the other hand, if you experience piriformis syndrome when you are standing or sitting (including cycling), this is a sign that the problem is coming from your neck.

As we mentioned earlier, your brain is ultimately what causes muscles in your body to become tight. So if there is ever a problem that affects the function of your brain itself, it will make an important decision, “Sorry body, we need you to take one for the team.”

It is a response called the vestibulospinal reflex. In brief, a mechanical problem in your neck creates an imbalance with your head and balance system. So in order to keep your head upright, your brain produces compensatory changes all the way down your spine and pelvis to balance the system.

Even if you have not experienced major neck trauma such as a car accident or whiplash, your neck is one of the most fragile areas of your entire body and susceptible to common injuries:

  • Slips, trips and falls (including falls on your tailbone, which create a shockwave effect that ripples upward through your spine and affects your neck)
  • Repetitive stress injuries such as writing, reading, or looking at a computer, tablet or phone all day
  • Forward head posture
  • Reversed curve in your neck.

(Note: The average person we see in our practice experienced a physical injury 15 years prior to the onset of their symptoms. This adds further weight to our argument that piriformis syndrome is a compensation for a brain-body imbalance coming from somewhere else in your body.)

Especially if you experience other symptoms such as headaches, neck pain, chronic shoulder pain, tingling in your fingers, this is a strong sign that your neck is involved with the other symptoms you experience in your low back.


A different approach for treating Sciatica and Piriformis Syndrome

Even if you have tried all the conventional treatments – stretching, massage, physical therapy, chiropractic or even injections – there is a different approach that can help resolve chronic sciatica and piriformis syndrome.

It is a natural approach known as the Blair procedure.

The Blair technique is a specialist division of general chiropractic known as upper cervical care. The purpose of upper cervical care is to restore the alignment of your upper neck due to its impact on the whole body, including the piriformis muscle. Unlike general chiropractic, there is no stretching, twisting or cracking. The procedure involves a personalized examination, which includes advanced diagnostic imaging to discover the underlying cause of your symptoms.

The procedure then involves a gentle and specific correction for the top vertebrae in your neck. Once your normal function returns, your body unwinds itself and takes  pressure off the low back and piriformis muscle. This allows your body to heal itself.

At Clear Chiropractic, we also focus on the function of the ankles, which are the other major contributing factors toward piriformis syndrome. By taking a top-down and also bottom-up approach, we do not not simply treat the symptoms. We look to get to the root cause of health problems,

Even if you have tried general chiropractic, the procedures we use at Clear Chiropractic are different.

If you are looking for a chiropractor in Spokane, visit our home page more information. To schedule a new patient appointment with our Mead (north Spokane) or South Hill offices, complete a new patient request form here or call us direct at 509-315-8166.[/vc_column_text]