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Sciatica? Piriformis? Something else? Confused!

MsMetaPMMsMetaP Posts: 2
edited 06/11/2012 - 8:58 AM in New Member Introductions
Hello fellow sufferers,
I read that I should introduce myself, with details, so here goes.

I'm 62.5 years old and I work at a desk/computer job. In 2006 I broke my right ankle and had surgery with two screws inserted. Everything healed on schedule and that was it.

Around August of 2010, my neighbor woke me up in the middle of the night with (what she saw as) an emergency. She scared the wits out of me and I RAN from a deep sleep to the front door. Once the so-called emergency was over, I went back to bed.

When I awoke the next morning, I experienced a pain in the lower, outside part of my right leg. Pain like nothing I've ever experienced in my life. It brought tears to my eyes. I figured I had "pulled something" in that area. Iced it and took it easy, but it recurred every morning for around 2-3 weeks, then stopped.

For no "apparent" reason, it came back in January of 2011. Thinking it was related in some way to my ankle, I went to the orthopedic surgeon who fixed the ankle. X-ray revealed no problems with the ankle, not even a bit of arthritis, and he told me to take Aleve (double dose) for three weeks. I did, and the pain went away.

It recurred again during my vacation in July 2011. Back to the Aleve and it stopped. In early October, it came back and nothing has helped. Aleve and Ibuprofin only "dull" the pain, but do not stop it. I went back to the ortho and had an MRI of my lower back which revealed a slightly bulging disk, but the bulge is on the left and the pain is on the right. The Dr. still decided it's sciatica and sent me to PT.

The PT was HORRIBLE! Prior to PT I had NO lower back pain. After two weeks PT I could barely go to work due to back pain and the leg pain was also much worse. So I dropped the PT.

Research on the web has led me to think I may have Piriformis Syndrome, since none of my symptoms seem to "fit" sciatica. I have no pain the the buttocks, and my pain does NOT go down the back of my leg. It's in the outside of my lower leg. It does not bother me to sit. I just have this excruciating pain every morning in the lower outside of my ankle/calf. Originally, it lasted anywhere from 20 mins to over an hour.

The main reason I suspect the Piriformis is that the Piriformis stretches have started helping to reduce the pain. I tried them, since I figured I had little to loose. I can definitely feel pain in my hip when I do this, but the pain in the leg decreases and is now only lasting 5-15 minutes.

I have also learned that bending forward, with my foot raised (like on the toilet seat), nearly stops the pain. Too bad I can't stay there, but it's pretty tricky to work on a computer in that postion. :o|

I'm hoping to learn if anyone else has "atypical" symptoms like mine that's been diagnosed with Piriformis. Like many, my insurance is not good and my $2,500 deductible restarts 1/1/12, so I will not be seeing any Dr.'s in 2012 unless I'm half dead. I have to pay off the medical bills for 2011 before I can even think about any more treatments.

I will need to do this on my own. Thanks in advance for any insight, suggestions, etc.

P.S. One oddity about me that may have some bearing on this: Since childhood, I have been completely unable to sit "cross-legged." As a child, I "naturally" sat on the floor with my legs in an "M" position...the butt being the center point of the "M" the knees the top, and the legs the long parts extending down...or back. Teachers used to yell at me trying to get me to sit "Indian style." They thought I was being difficult. The fact is, I was not capable of sitting that way, and I still can't. I'm wondering if this is why my symptoms are "different."


  • hi and welcome to the forum! we are here to offer you support and answer what questions we can. i am sorry i do not have any suggesstions for you but did want to say hello!! i am sure others will drop in with some ideas for you! it is almost impossible to give any type of diagnosis without a proper exam and pictures.. and that is up to a doctor!! good luck as you search for pain relief!! stop by the forum anytime!! be sure and make good use of the many videos and reports available here on site about the condition!! take care! Jenny :)
  • SavageSavage United StatesPosts: 5,470
    ..I'm not real familiar with what you are comparing. I just read a little on this handy dandy site we have here :)

    When my first pain from the unknown started... it was as you described...my outer left calf. And yeah..it hurt! I went to a chiropractor eventually because I was desperate.

    Her x rays showed problem...thinning lower spine. I dunno...but things didn't get better. But that is me. Doesn't mean it's the same for you.

    But it not a bad idea to remember proper alignment, careful with lifting, twisting, turning.

    Best of luck to you and I hope your pain leaves you as mysteriously as it arrived.
    Spine-Health Moderator
    Please read my medical history at: Medical History

  • Hi MsMetaP,

    I have a herniated L5-S1 disk on the right side-- yet most of my symptoms are on the left side of my body. I have experienced that calf and outter leg pain as well, the right side too, mainly the first year to year and a half after my injury.
    I have spent many years getting my Dr. "on board" with how I was feeling, it is a saga I won't go into now... and have finally seen a specialist, last month. (went to physio, chiro, had decompression therapy and acupuncture and had the standard Xray, CT and MRI's)
    In Jan I go for my first steroid epidural shot, which will help figure out if the acutal disk is the cause of the symptoms. *I no longer have the leg pain, it has moved to my right hip and buttock for the last three years*
    My dr and specialists (ortho specialist) can't answer why I have the symptoms mainly left side and have told me they do not feel the bulging disk is the actual reason, as I will repeat it is on the opposite side.
    I have done priformius stretching also- which has helped a bit-- but all the stretching I can do is beneficial.
    whilel attending acupuncture I had awful appointments- superb Dr. but the needles caused me extreme discomfort and knife stabbing pains!!! the priformius muscle was horrible- the pains-- and my sympathetic nerve system was "all haywired up", the words of my Dr. of acupuncture. I strongly feel there is some corrilation to the crossed sympathetic nerves and how I experience-- and where I experience-- pains. Still researching on that one!!
    I also am able, thankfully, to ride a recumbent bike for a few minutes at a time. I really feel the difference of strength between my two legs and I have a problem with ergonimics-- I lean alot, I kind of slump to a side when I sit- I know it is not 'good' to do this.. but I do it subconciously as it is physically comfortable at the time.
    I also have checked out prolotherapy- I went to a naturopath for an appt. and found out there that my right leg is shorter than my left, and the large muscle going up the left side of my back is substancially larger and over-developed than the right side of my back. (becuase of how I walk, with a limp and usually a stick for balance.) I am not able to afford the prolotherapy right now-- have met some it helped, some it didn't--- depends on individuals. Not sure what the future holds there for me.

    I hope I have not "babbled" too much. I will make sure I check back here to see how you are doing:)
  • Thank you for the comments and recommendations. And thank you to Sally711 for taking the time to write about your similar issues. You did not babble on too much!

    It's helpful to know that at least one other person has had this outside leg pain. What I find interesting is that my Dr. advised me not to ride my recumbent. Mine is a recumbent trike, but same principle. He said the repetitive movement might aggravate the inflammation.

    I may try it again, hearing of your success.
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