Back pain is common, especially among old people (like me). I’ve felt lucky that my back pain isn’t constant, usually showing up as flares and easily dealt with (compared to the main sources of my pain).
So, I was surprised when I began noticing a pain in my butt — left cheek to be exact. I’m like, what could it be? Can’t be a muscle strain, considering it’s my butt (which is mostly fat). Feels more like a pinched nerve, which means I just need to be patient and it will (hopefully) fade.
But the problem is not the pain in my left cheek, but the pain that radiates down my leg and makes it hard to put pressure on my left leg. It’s one thing to wonder if my knees will support me, but quite another when the pain is so bad it can make my leg collapse.
Asking Google’s help, I’ve diagnosed my problem:
Piriformis is a small muscle that can cause a lot of trouble if it gets tight. It sits deep within the hip and its job is to rotate the hip externally and to abduct the leg when the hip is flexed. Tight piriformis by itself can cause the pain in the butt, but situation becomes worse if it presses on the sciatic nerve that passes underneath (and for some people right through) the piriformis muscle.
Location: The pain can show up in the middle of the buttock, in the lower back or anywhere along the pathway of the nerve. It can also manifest as numbness or weakness in the leg.
Offender: Herniated disks, bone spurs on the vertebrae or tight piriformis muscle
Reason: Sitting or driving a lot, degenerative changes in the spine with age.
Piriformis Syndrome is an extremely common condition, and is far more likely to be found in women than men (about 6-15 times more often, depending on whose studies you are looking at). Although I can only speculate on the reason for this, I suspect that it is a child-bearing issue…
Over the past decade I have come to realize that Piriformis Syndrome is literally “epidemic” in the female portion of our society. Although I had no intention for it to happen this way, our Piriformis Syndrome Page is Destroy Chronic Pain’s #1 webpage by far. And despite all of the new research on the subject, the medical community remains largely mystified about what it really is, or how to treat it effectively…
Like Fibromyalgia, Piriformis appears to be another medical condition that mainly affects women and which the medical industry (made up of mostly men) have no clue about. If I had gone to the doctor about this pain, what kind of “professional” advice would I have paid for? And even if the doctor correctly diagnosed the condition, what treatment could he offer me? Nothing, dude, nothing.
Now I have to create an ice pack big enough for my butt. LOL.