resourcesABOUT MT AUTHOR GUIDELINES CLASSIFIEDS EDITORIAL CALENDAR MEDIA GUIDE MASSAGE MART SCHOOLS & EDUCATION FEEDBACK
The Way We Are Designed: A Conversation with Gil Hedley, PhD
I was first introduced to the work of Gil Hedley by Tom DiFerdinando. He gifted me Gil's DVD series.
The Dietary Supplement Research Dilemma
I do not care what the truth is, one way or another; I just want to know it. And when it comes to dietary supplements, the truth can be hard to find for a number of reasons.
Turning a Blind Eye to History – and Reality
The American Medical Association is taking the Supreme Court's Feb. 25, 2015 decision exactly as it always does – by turning a blind eye to history, legal precedent and reality.
Low Back Pain in Professional Golf: A Common Muscular Relationship
Every sport creates its own unique demands on the body. Some sports require such a myriad of body positions that assessing pathology is often difficult and unpredictable.
There Really is No Room for Sexism
Recently, Matteo* (a transgender male) approached me during a break in an advanced shiatsu class in Berlin where he was one of two men in a group of 20 women. "Pamela. Don't forget to remind the translator to include male endings."
Functional Hip Impingement (Part 1)
Every time I sit down to write an article, I realize how much more there is to know about musculoskeletal pain. I also learn something new every time. (I want to give special thanks to Lucy Whyte Ferguson for assisting with this article.)
The Need for a New Medical Model: A Challenge for Biopsychosocial and Ecopsychologica Medicine
Chinese medicine speaks of alignment between humans, heaven and earth. It is a complex view with a focus upon relationship. These are comprehensive ideas with no specific terms in contemporary medical practice.
A Well-Kept Secret: 5 Element Acupuncture, Part II
Supervising acupuncture interns at a TCM college, it has always struck me how funny it is to hear the clinic manager tell the patients that the Five Element clinic specializes in treating emotions, as if patients with physical pain have no emotions!
TCM Congress in Rothenburg is Largest in Western World
In the medieval town of Rothenburg, deep set within the Bavarian countryside in Southern Germany, the TCM Kongress Rothenburg each year draws around 1.200 participants from more than 40 different countries to attend the biggest TCM conference in the Western world.
Applying the Thin Skull Principle
The "thin skull" principle, also known as the "you take your victim as you find them" principle, is a legal principle that can be summed up by the following statement.
Synergy Doesn't Happen in Silos: Acupuncture in Hospitals and Other Healthcare Settings
As acupuncture and traditional East Asian medicine continue to intersect and integrate with biomedical approaches, the conversation about integration expands and becomes richer.
Optimism = Compassion = Trust
A randomized clinical trial recently published online in JAMA Oncology examined how patients viewed their doctor based upon how the practitioner presented bad news to the patient.
An Excerpt from TCM Case Studies: Pediatrics
This excerpt is reprinted with permission from Jamie Wu. TCM Case Studies: Pediatrics was released in 2014 by People's Medical Publishing House.
Treating Beyond Pain
More often than not, when a patient presents to the office, it is for a pain complaint. Headache, neck pain, low back pain, sciatica, carpal tunnel... The pain is often the focus of the patient's mindset, and they don't often have any thought of what comes after the pain.
A View From the ER
The University of Western States has inked an innovative agreement with local nonprofit health system Legacy Health whereby UWS sports-medicine fellows can experience observational clinical rotations in emergency-room settings within the Legacy system.
Will You Be an Amplifer or a Mute?
These times are changing, and changing quickly. There have been many challenges to this profession throughout the past few years. The challenge is to talk, then talk and talk some more about this medicine.
Recreational Cannabis Use and TCM
Many people are drawn to cannabis for its effects physically, mentally and emotionally. Medically, cannabis has some legitimate uses, however the scope of this article is limited to the recreational use of cannabis.
Talking to Patients About Lumbar Facet Denervation (Medial Branch Neurotomy)
Lumbar facet denervation, more appropriately termed medial branch neurotomy (MBN), is a procedure that may be considered when patients suffer from recalcitrant non-radicular axial back and/or leg pain.
A House Divided?
The American Chiropractic Association's House of Delegates voted on 30 resolutions at its annual business meeting in Washington D.C., but two in particular took immediate center stage due to their controversial nature.
Term Limits: What's in a Word?
It was the French historian and philosopher Voltaire who once declared the Holy Roman Empire was neither holy nor Roman nor an empire.
Converting More Patients to Your Practice
In 2013 and 2014, the theme was "the money is in the list." This meant that if you had a big email list, you were really making some "cha-ching." Unfortunately, having thousands of emails doesn't equate to thousands of dollars in profit.
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.