Like any other body system, the musculoskeletal system is quite complex. There are so many moving parts and interconnected structures that rely on each other to achieve proper locomotion, and if there is one small problem in a localized area, the entire system can be affected.
This is exactly the case with a condition known as Piriformis Syndrome. The piriformis is a tiny muscle located in the hip region, that many people have never even heard of. However, the piriformis plays a huge role in the layout of the connection between the leg and the hip. It lies directly in front of the glutes and sits right above the sciatic nerve, which is instrumental in maintaining proper neurological function in this region of the body. In Piriformis Syndrome, patients experience excessive tightness in the piriformis, which in turn puts pressure on the sciatic nerve and causes pain to radiate down the leg.
According to physiologists, chiropractors, and a small but developing body of research, Piriformis Syndrome has two main causes. First, prolonged periods of sitting can cause increased tightness in the piriformis and without proper stretching and/or exercise, this tightness can reach dangerous levels. The other main cause is any sort of injury to the buttocks region.
As far as treatment is concerned, chiropractors are able to incorporate many different kinds of interventions into the care pathway of a patient with Piriformis Syndrome. One of the most effective treatments that a chiropractor can administer is heat therapy. When heat is applied to this region of the body, blood flow through the piriformis and other surrounding muscles increases, effectively loosening up the piriformis. When the muscle is loosened up, less pressure is applied to the sciatic nerve and order is restored.
Chiropractic care is a holistic approach to musculoskeletal problems, so an assessment of the whole body rather than just one localized area is usually enacted. Chiropractors may even find a problem in a completely different region of the body, which is contributing to Piriformis Syndrome. This is just one of many areas in which chiropractic care has the potential to mitigate the complex interactions of the musculoskeletal system that result in pain and discomfort.
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