resourcesABOUT MT AUTHOR GUIDELINES CLASSIFIEDS EDITORIAL CALENDAR MEDIA GUIDE MASSAGE MART SCHOOLS & EDUCATION FEEDBACK
A Long-Overdue Win for Oregon Medicaid Patients - and the Implications for Other States
Beginning July 1, 2016, Oregon Medicaid patients with spinal pain (cervical, thoracic, lumbar, pelvic) who are determined to be low risk based on a biopsychosocial assessment tool (STarT Back – Keele University) can receive four chiropractic visits per episode.
Tai Chi Documentary Premier
First Run Features recently announced the world theatrical premiere of Barry Strugatz's documentary The Professor: Tai Chi's Journey West, which premiered last month at the Laemmle Music Hall in Los Angeles.
Kansas Achieves Licensing Law
Kansas Governor Sam Brownback signed House Bill 2615 into law on Friday, May 13, 2016. HB2615 includes provisions for the licensure of acupuncturists in the state of Kansas.
An MD Who Understands the Opioid Epidemic
Doctors of chiropractic have an important role to play in ending the opioid epidemic and dealing with chronic pain by conservative means (see our top story in this issue) – but who's to blame for opioid dependence and abuse in the first place?
What You Say Isn't Always What Patients Hear
A few years ago, my aunt Edna (name changed for the purpose of this story) suffered a stroke. After a short hospital stay, she was transferred to a nursing home for rehabilitation. When she arrived at the nursing home, Edna requested a private room.
Acupuncture's Impact on the World
For several years, I have been hearing about the town of Rothenburg, Germany. It seemed just a dot on a map until I arrived. It is the home of the TCM Kongress which began in 1968. It has been held annually for 47 years and it has only missed one year.
Insuring Quality Control in Herb Importation: An Interview with Wilson Lau
Wilson Lau is the vice president of Nuherbs, a Chinese herb importation company based in San Leandro, California. Before joining Nuherbs, he trained as a lawyer specializing in FDA law.
Adventures with the San Jiao
Those of us who have been in practice for several decades relish the way meridians and points reveal new diagnostic clues and new insights. I love to encourage my students to see this as an adventure that goes way beyond the textbooks.
Introducing the Acupuncture Today Digital Edition
In response to the changing habits of our readers, Acupuncture Today will introduce a digital edition of the publication (in addition to our print edition) beginning with the August 2016 issue.
Believe it or not, an estimated one-third of your patients have eaten some form of fast food within 24 hours of their appointment with you.
Chronic Pain: Become Part of the Solution
I have lectured to more than 7,000 chiropractic physicians over the past five years regarding the chronic pain and opioid epidemic in this country.
Increasing the Value of Spine Care: CMS Approves New Low Back Pain Registry
The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services has approved the Spine IQ Low Back Pain Registry as a qualified clinical data registry for the Physician Quality Reporting System (PQRS) in 2016.
Acupuncture Muscle Trigger Point and Oriental Medicine Sports Therapy
It is difficult to ascertain the internal condition of professional basketball player Lebron James during game one of the 2014 NBA finals, in which he developed debilitating muscle cramps that led to his premature removal from the game.
Sit or Stand? Analyzing a Mixed Message
I'm more than a bit confused. At my age, that seems to be a rather common occurrence. However, today more than ever, I'm getting a mixed message.
What's New in Phytonutrition: Mangifera Indica, "The King of Fruits"
One hundred percent pure Indian green mango fruit (mangifera indica), harvested at a special degree of ripeness for efficacy and taste, can now be concentrated as a phytonutrient nutraceutical powder.
The Pertinent Negative
We all have to perform evaluations on patients. Most of us don't like doing it – exams take time, and worse it takes even more time after the evaluation to put together a narrative summary of the findings. Sometimes, this process becomes downright tedious.
Treating Hip & Groin Pain With Abdominal Release of Upper Lumbar Nerve Impingements
Have you encountered patients with groin and hip pain you can't seem to solve? You know it's not a worn-out hip; you suspect the pain is somehow connected to the spine. But somehow, you just can't help them break through.
Beating the Odds: Interview With Para-Powerlifter Adeline Dumapong-Ancheta
Since October 2015, the FICS Foundation, the charitable organization affiliated with the International Federation of Sports Chiropractic (FICS), has been supporting disabled athletes internationally.
AOM Hospital-Based Practice: A Future Reality?
The natural evolution of health care on the planet is integrative health. We may have some challenges ahead, but based on my research, all indicators are pointing in a positive direction. There seems to be an evolving consciousness among our patient population that is "getting it."
Multivitamin Supplement May Reduce Breast Cancer Recurrence
There is a great deal of controversy regarding the value of multiple vitamin supplements in cancer prevention.
An Emerging Partnership Model
Maryland University of Integrative Health (MUIH) has educated integrative health and wellness practitioners for the last 40 years, originally as an acupuncture clinic and school. The institution's transformative, relationship-centered programs integrate traditional wisdom with contemporary science
Three Tips to Help You Analyze the Acupuncture Case Studies of the NCCAOM Exam
Confirm the answer quickly by the elimination method. Case study:
After two treatments for back pain, a patient presents for a third
session complaining of rapid breathing and wheezing that is made worse
during cold weather.
March, 2008, Vol. 08, Issue 03
Treating Piriformis Syndrome
By Whitney Lowe, LMT
Sciatica is a term that describes radiating neurological pain that courses down the back side of the lower extremity. When the term is used, most people think of intervertebral disc pathology as the source of the problem. Lumbar disc pathology certainly can produce lower-extremity neurological pain, but other conditions can produce identical symptoms.
The sciatic nerve, formed by nerve roots from the lumbar and sacral plexuses, is the largest nerve in the body. It passes through a number of small spaces as it makes its way from the lumbopelvic region down the lower extremity. Along the way there are several sites at which sciatic nerve compression can occur. Nerve compression in any of these locations can produce symptoms identical to those of a herniated lumbar disc.
In the gluteal region, the piriformis muscle can compress the sciatic nerve, creating a condition known as piriformis syndrome. The sciatic nerve derives from the L4-S2 nerve roots and courses anterior to the sacrum, before passing inferior to the piriformis muscle (Figure 1). Tendinous bands at the edge of the muscle can compress the nerve. It also can be compressed between the piriformis and the sacrospinous ligament. Even a low level of pressure applied to the nerve for a long period of time can create symptoms.1
Other nerves in this region also are susceptible to compression and are variations of piriformis syndrome. The superior gluteal nerve can be squeezed between the piriformis and the greater sciatic notch (Figure 1). The superior gluteal nerve is primarily a motor nerve that supplies the gluteus medius, gluteus minimus and tensor fasciae latae. Nerve compression produces weakness in the abductors of the hip, but radiating pain down the posterior leg does not occur, as the nerve is confined to the gluteal region. If neurological symptoms are confined to the posterior thigh and do not extend below the knee, compression of the posterior femoral cutaneous nerve could be the reason. The posterior femoral cutaneous nerve lies adjacent to the sciatic nerve and also can be compressed by the piriformis muscle.2
Certain anatomical variations play a role in piriformis syndrome. The sciatic nerve is composed of two divisions: the peroneal and tibial. Usually, they are bound together along the length of the nerve, but in some cases they divide as they pass the piriformis muscle (Figure 2). Sometimes one division goes through the muscle while the other goes below it. In other cases, one division goes above the piriformis while the other goes below. In a small percentage of the population, both divisions go directly through the piriformis muscle.3 It is easy to see how some of these anatomical variations cause increased neurological symptoms.
Piriformis syndrome routinely occurs from external pressure such as sitting on a wallet. In rare cases it results from a direct blow to the buttock area.4 As a result of trauma, adhesions can develop between the piriformis muscle, the sciatic nerve and the roof of the greater sciatic notch.
Myofascial trigger points in the piriformis or other gluteal muscles can create hypertonicity and lead directly to nerve compression. Trigger points in the gluteus minimus are known to reproduce symptoms identical to sciatica and could be confused with piriformis syndrome.3 Sacroiliac joint dysfunction also can perpetuate trigger points in the piriformis muscle and increase the likelihood of nerve compression.5
The most important factor in designing a treatment strategy for any soft-tissue disorder is to understand the nature of the problem and make sure the physiological effects of the treatment approach fit appropriately. The primary problem in this condition is nerve entrapment by a soft-tissue structure. Therefore, the goal of treatment is to reduce compressive force on the affected nerve(s). The piriformis muscle is the cause of the nerve entrapment, so treatment strategies emphasize reducing piriformis tightness.
After applying superficial effleurage and other general warming techniques to reduce tension in the gluteal muscles, treatment of the piriformis can begin. Keep in mind that this region can be very tender, so approach treatment with presence and compassionate pressure. Myofascial trigger points in the piriformis muscle are treated with static compression techniques. Apply pressure to the region and hold it for 8-10 seconds until you feel some degree of tissue relaxation under your treatment hand. Static pressure can begin with a broad contact surface such as the back of the fist to gain initial muscle relaxation. After warming up and relaxing the muscles with broad applications of pressure, use a small contact surface such as the thumb, elbow or pressure tool for specific trigger-point treatment.
Use caution when applying pressure to this region because you don't want to further compress the region of nerve entrapment. The muscles may be tender, but pressure on the piriformis region should not reproduce or aggravate the neurological symptoms. If pressure on the piriformis region aggravates neurological symptoms in the gluteal region or down the lower extremity, you need to reduce pressure and/or move to a different location.
Longitudinal stripping methods along the length of the piriformis muscle also help reduce tension. Stripping techniques are performed with the fingertips, knuckle, thumb, elbow, or pressure tool. The stripping motion can be performed from the sacrum toward the trochanter or from the trochanter toward the sacrum.
In some cases, you want to avoid putting direct pressure on the region of nerve entrapment. Muscle energy technique (MET) stretching is a great option in this case. To perform an MET treatment for the piriformis, begin with the client in a prone position. Bring the lower extremity into lateral rotation to shorten the piriformis. Instruct the client to hold the leg in that position as you attempt to pull the foot in a lateral direction (medially rotating the hip). Tell the client to slowly release the contraction. As the contraction is released, pull the foot farther laterally, which stretches (Figure 3).
Piriformis compression of nerves in the gluteal region is likely a cause of lower-extremity sciatic nerve symptoms. If piriformis syndrome is accurately identified as the cause of the symptoms, massage is a valuable treatment strategy as long as it is performed correctly.
Click here for more information about Whitney Lowe, LMT.
Join the conversation
Comments are encouraged, but you must follow our User Agreementcomments powered by Disqus
Keep it civil and stay on topic. No profanity, vulgar, racist or hateful comments or personal attacks. Anyone who chooses to exercise poor judgement will be blocked. By posting your comment, you agree to allow MPA Media the right to republish your name and comment in additional MPA Media publications without any notification or payment.