Health Tip: Have Pain in the Back and Leg?

-- Do you have a pain in the rear that isn't caused by your boss? This literal pain in the buttocks could signal an inflamed piriformis muscle, which helps stabilize the hip, leg and pelvic area.

The piriformis, often overlooked as a cause of sciatica, can become inflamed, usually from sitting too long or rotating the leg outward (as when driving). When inflamed, the muscle can harden and press on the sciatic nerve, causing sciatica pain in the buttocks that radiates down the leg to the ankle or middle of the foot. It may be felt in the lower back, too. Sitting usually makes it worse, while standing or walking often makes it feel better.

The good news from the Arthritis Foundation is that the sciatica caused by an inflamed piriformis usually does not require surgery. It can be relieved by ice or heat; nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) such as aspirin or ibuprofen; physical therapy, including deep massage and range-of-motion exercises; and corticosteroid injections.

Preventing future spasms of the piriformis muscle can be as simple as adding stretching exercises to your daily routine, the foundation says.

Posted: January 2011


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