” False Sciatica” a.k.a “Piriformis Syndrome”, refers to pain that begins in the hip and buttocks and continues all the way down the leg. This condition is often accompanied by low back pain, which can be more or less severe than the leg pain. In addition to pain, other sensations include spasms, tingling or numbness along the sciatic nerve that can travel down the hamstrings, legs and feet. These symptoms can be bilateral or can occur on one side.
What causes False Sciatica?
The cause of Sciatica can range from a misaligned vertebra or disc, to tightened muscles surrounding these structures, to tightened muscles anywhere along the length of the sciatic nerve. It is called true sciatica when a herniated lumbar disc compresses one of the contributing roots of the sciatic nerve. It is called false sciatica when contracted musculature in the buttocks or lower extremity compresses the sciatic nerve. The symptoms are the same for true or false sciatica.
The sciatic nerve passes through a mass of the hip’s external rotator muscles. The sciatic nerve exits the greater sciatic foramen and can run superficial to, deep to or even through the pirformis muscle. Spasm in the piriformis muscle can cause compression on the sciatic nerve sending pain, tingling and numbness down the posterior leg. This description falls into the category of false sciatica and is referred to as piriformis muscle syndrome.
Piriformis Syndrome is sometimes referred to as “back pocket” sciatica. People that keep a wallet in their back pocket and sit on it throughout the day often develop symptoms of pain in the rear and down the leg. The extra pressure on the buttocks can cause tightening of the buttock muscles which can compress the sciatic nerve. In “back pocket” sciatica, the removal of the offending wallet usually brings relief.
In general, soft tissue manipulation techniques such as deep tissue massage, active release therapy and Graston, applied to the offending muscles (overly tight) will bring relief, as well as continued stretching. once the previously inhibited tissues have regained pliability.
If this is a condition that seems to describe your symptoms, do not hesitate to make an appointment with a qualified Registered Massage Therapist, so that he/she can get to the “butt” of the issue, and send you merely on your way back to recovery! (Cheesy pun totally intended!)