Welcome to my blog, discover acupuncture with Dr Maggie Ju

Qualified as a medical doctor in Western medicine in China with a Medical degree from Beijing, China and a PhD degree from the UK. Many year research and clinical experiences. This blog is for information only.

Tuesday, 9 August 2022

What is piriformis syndrome? Low back pain? Can acupuncture help?

Piriformis syndrome is an uncommon neuromuscular disorder. In this condition the sciatic nerve is compressed by piriformis muscle which is a flat, band-like muscle located in the buttocks near the top of the hip joint. This muscle is important in lower body movement and it is used in almost every motion of the hips and legs. Through the piriformis muscle sciatic nerve passes and goes down the back of the thigh and leg. The spasm of the piriformis muscle can compress the nerve to cause some symptoms which include pain, tingling, or numbness in the buttocks. The pain can be sever and spread down to the leg and foot. The pain can be triggered by sitting for long periods of time, climbing stairs and running.

Management of piriformis syndrome include avoiding positions that trigger pain. Rest, ice and heat may help reduce symptoms. Exercises and stretches may help reduce sciatic nerve compression reducing symptoms. Pain killers, muscle relaxants or local injection with corticosteroid or anesthetic may help with reduction of pain.

Acupuncture can be helpful. There were case reports showing effectiveness of acupuncture for priformis syndrome. For example, Liu JM et al observed 80 patients with piriformis syndrome. They found that after a course of acupuncture treatments, the pain threshold values were improved significantly. Another study by Chen RN and Chen YB has shown similar results that acupuncture reduced pain instantly in patients with piriformis syndrome. Shu also reported a case study. In this study there were 39 males and 36 females, at the age of 22-85; they suffered piriformis syndrome for from 3 days to 10 years. After acupuncture treatments, symptoms and signs of pain in the hip and thigh disappeared and the patient can move freely in 55 patients. Symptoms were obviously reduced, and signs were partially improved with basically normal walking and movement, but there was still pressure pain on piriformis in 24 patients. There was no effect in 2 patients. Here was a typical case in this study: A 71 year old lady had pain on her back for 10 months and the pain spread to her hip and thigh. The pain severity changed from mild to severe. There was tender point on the piriformis muscle. After 3 sessions of acupuncture treatments, the pain was reduced significnalty. Followed another 5 sessions of acupuncture, the pain was completely disappeared.

References

Liu JM et al Zhongguo Zhen Jiu (2013) 33:422-5

Chen RN and Chen YB Zhongguo Zhen Jiu (2009) 29:550-2

Shu H J Tradit Chin Med (2003) 23:38-9

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