Little muscle- BIG pain! We wanted to tell you about a classic case that appeared in clinic this week as it may also help you – a lady in her mid 30’s came into clinic with excruciating pain and tingling sensations radiating down the back of her thigh. Good old ‘Dr Google’ had suggested this could be sciatica which had got her really worried.
On examination, we found a nasty little group of what are called “trigger points” (focal areas of hyperirritability within a muscle) in her gluteus minimus muscle, and palpation of these reproduced the exact pain she had been experiencing. But what is this? The referred pain generated from trigger points in the gluteus minimus is notorious for activating other trigger points in the TFL, quadriceps, gastrocnemius, hamstrings, and peroneal muscle groups- in fact, gluteus minimus referred pain is often referred to as “pseudo-sciatica”, as it so closely mimics the symptoms of sciatica.
What commonly causes a glute min trigger point?
– Walking or running on uneven ground
– Sitting on a wallet (hello chaps- we’re talking to you!)
– Limping (from a foot or lower leg injury)
– Driving long distances or sitting for long periods
– Sacroiliac joint dysfunction
Fortunately, with a comprehensive treatment programme which addresses the many components of this problem, this issue can be resolved swiftly and successfully in clinic, helping to relieve what is a literal “pain in the butt“!
Butt!? What is TRUE Sciatica?
Sciatica is the name given to any sort of pain that is caused by irritation or compression of the sciatic nerve. This particular nerve is the longest nerve in your body and it runs from the back of your pelvis, through your buttocks, and all the way down both legs, ending at your feet.
In the vast majority of true sciatica cases, sciatica is caused by a herniated or “slipped” disc (learn more about the fabled slipped disc here): This is when one of the discs that sit between the bones of the spine (the vertebrae) is damaged and presses on the nerves. Less common causes include spinal stenosis (narrowing of the nerve passages in the spine), a spinal injury or infection, or a growth within the spine (such as a tumour in very rare cases). It is important to be checked by a specialist immediately if you have any symptoms, by being diagnosed quickly you will avoid further pain, discomfort and possible injury.
You can minimise your risk of developing a slipped disc or back injury that could lead to sciatica by adopting a better posture and lifting techniques at work, as well as stretching before and after exercise, and exercising regularly. We also recommend adding a foam roller into your exercise routine to help with the after affects of exercise and encourage muscle repair, read ‘5 Ways your foam roller could be more effective’ to find out more.
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