A lot of the pain we work with in our office has to do with pain that seems to radiate towards the gluteal region from the low back and even in some cases down into the thigh and lower leg. The pain in some cases is often tooth-achy pain in nature while in other cases of more sudden onset it can be sharp pain that stops you in an instant. These are pretty common signs of sciatica.
In a lot of cases, dull, achy low back pain with some mild sciatica is relieved with stretching, changes in position, and going from a sitting position to an upright position. Some common causes of sciatic pain are spinal stenosis. Spinal stenosis is a decrease space in the spinal canal which is usually caused by arthritic changes and bone formation to help support the spine. Spinal stenosis is often a slow progressing problem that does not simply strike overnight. A disc herniation is more of an acute problem very commonly causing pain to radiate down the leg from the low back. When a disc has a herniation, it either bulges outward onto a spinal nerve root or leaks on the spinal nerve roots and causes high level pain which usually comes on after an known event like picking up something aggressively, bending over a lot, being in some form of traumatic accident, etc.
Another common cause that we are referred patients to our office from all types of healthcare providers (Orthopedics, Physiotherapists, Physical Therapists, Family doctors, etc) specifically for Active Release Technique is piriformis syndrome. The piriformis muscle is a muscle in the buttocks region which controls rotation of the femur and when this muscle tightens abnormally or spasms completely, it often times puts a good deal of pressure on the sciatic nerve, causing a “pseudo form of sciatic” that often times gets better short term with self stretching and less sitting, but never completely goes away in this manner because often times other structures in the gluteal and hamstring regions will not let you stretch enough to solve the problem completely.
Lastly, pregnancy can actually cause some issues in around the sciatic areas in the gluteal region due to a pelvic girdle which is opening to better accommodate the birth of a child. These changes in hip angle, pelvis shape, and overall postural changes can in some cases cause increased pressure on the sciatic nerve as it passes through this region. The good news for all you expectant mothers is that it often times improves once the child is delivered and the pelvic areas fall back to a normal position and the anterior pelvic tilt caused during pregnancy improves greatly in weeks postpartum.
If you or someone you know is suffering with the any of the issues discussed in this blog post, please reach out to our office! These are issues we deal with week in and week out!