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First of all, sorry for my English and probably some major grammar mistakes. I currently live in the United States but I grew up in a different country where we don't speak English.
I want to share some background information before I come to my question
I'm currently 29 years old and I have played both soccer and ice hockey from when I was 6 years old. I quit soccer when I was 15 because I wanted to focus on hockey. I played hockey pretty seriously in Europe until I was about 23 years old. At the time I was in a decent shape. I din't play on the highest level so we were practicing 3-4 times per week plus a game or two per week. I wasn't making that much off so called "off ice exercising" though, so I was in a decent shape because hockey is intense, but since I wasn't hitting the gym or anything so I wasn't that muscular or anything, just in a decent shape from playing a sport on a decent level if that makes sense.
When I quit hockey I started to go to the gym instead and I built up a decent physique in about a year. Then I moved to the United States and I kept going seriously to the gym for another year. At the age of 25 I was in the best shape of my life, but at the time I started a new job which made me unable to go to the gym as much as I did earlier. Instead of going 4-5 times per week I was now going 1-2, or sometimes I didn't go at all. This kept going until I turned 28 and I got a new job and that's when I decided to start working out more often and more serious again. I was still in an okay shape, but if you ever been in a great shape chances are that you are going to refer yourself to that time, and that's what I did.
However, I started to work out again and this is when I realized that I lost a lot of my strength (which makes sense) over the years which was a little frustrating. I kept telling myself that I have to give myself and my body time to build up the strength again, but at one point I made the mistake of lifting way to heavy.
I was doing dead lifts and I felt it right away in the lower back. It was hurting pretty bad and when I came home from the gym I couldn't bend forward at all. At this time, it was only bending forward that was hard or painful. I could still walk without any problems, I could sit and I was able to sleep. A few days later I was still a bit stiff but it improved and got better and better and it wasn't really bothering me that much in my everyday life. A week after my injury I went on a walk and kept doing so for a few days. I even went on a run and slowly started to go to the gym to work on my upper body.
Couple of weeks later I was pretty much symptom free. I was just a little stiff in the morning but as I said it didn't bother me at all to be honest. If I would still have this "pain" I would probably not even write this text or ever found this website.
At this time I went on a road trip with some friends and I was sitting in the front passenger seat for the whole trip. I'm pretty tall (6'5) and I had a guy sitting behind me, so I moved the seat forward, so I was sitting pretty uncomfortable for the 2 hour drive and the day after I had a little bit of pain in my butt. It wasn't that bad though and I didn't even think that much about it. We stayed at the place for a day and then on our way back I did pretty much the same thing, I was sitting pretty uncomfortable for 2 hours or so. The day after we came back I was having some more pain in mainly my butt, but on a scale from 1-10 I would probably say like a 3. I felt it in the morning but it didn't affect my life that much. I could still walk with just a little pain in the beginning but it went away after a while. I could still stand up and most importantly I could sleep without any problems.
This pain kept going for a few weeks without any improvements. I kept going on walks and worked out at the gym. I was even doing some squats with light weights and it worked out pretty well - or at least it didn't make it worse at first. But at some point the pain increased and jumped up to a 5.
At this point I started to feel a little pain in the back of my leg too. I don't really know why but I guess the squats could have been the reason? When the pain increased is when I started to get concerned and started to do some research. At this point I quit doing squats and everything that involved my but and my lower back. I was still able to go on walks which I kept doing, and I kept going to the gym to work out my upper body. I started to do all types of stretching and I was laying on a foam roller after every single workout and I was stretching my leg, my hips and even my back. At this point I was pretty sure it was the Piriformis syndrome.
This pain was now bothering more and more. It was really bad in the morning now and it took my like 30 minutes in the morning before I could start walking, and I started to have a hard time to sit in my chair at work. I could still walk and stand up okay and sleep wasn't an issue at all. The worse thing was to get in and out of my car at this point. When I stepped in or out of my car, the pain went up to a 10 for a few seconds, and this is when I started to get really concerned and I realized that I really have to do something.
I first went to the doctor and they gave me naproxen. Took that for a week and it didn't make any difference. I went to get a deep tissue massage because I read that could help to relax the piriformis muscle, BUT THIS WAS A BIG MISTAKE!
The day after the deep tissue massage the pain was a 9 out of 10. I know that sounds very dramatic, but I couldn't lay down, I couldn't stand up, I couldn't sit or anything. I was in a constant pain and it was just awful. The pain was in my but and went down in my leg, and my foot started to feel numb and cold. I went to the doctor and he prescribed me methylprednisolone which I took for 6 days. All those 6 days was a total nightmare. I couldn't stand up for more then a minute, I couldn't walk for more then a minute and sitting down was impossible and laying down was hurting too. When I was standing or walking, the pain went to my hip and my whole leg started cramping. At this point I was really really worried and depressed.
I didn't sleep at all basically for those 6 days. The same day when I took my last pill I started to feel a little bit better and this is where I am now basically. I can stand up for about 3 minutes and walk for about the same time before it starts hurting. The pain is still mainly in my but and back of my leg and when I stand or walk I feel it mostly in my hip. I can lay down on my back without that much pain and I can actually sit in my office chair without too much pain so that's a pretty good improvement but still not a great situation. I went to get acupuncture yesterday and he said he thinks is my Piriformis for sure. The treatment helped a little bit I think, but it's hard to tell if it's just the fact that my body have started healing.
This is all happening on my left side (I'm left handed and left footed). My body is not streight and it leans to the right, away from the pain basically.
So that was a long text, now over to some of my questions:
My question is do you think that the symptoms sounds like piriformis or could it be something with the disc? I know the next step will probably be to get an MRI to be sure, but I don't know if I should do some stretching or will it make it worse? I have tried some stretching already and it doesn't feel better and it kinda makes it feel worse? Isn't that a sign of a slipped disc?
And is there a difference in healing time between Piriformis vs slipped disc? Individual of course but generally speaking?
And one last question, I see that some people say that they have been living with sciatica for years. Are you guys living with this type of pain or are you on like a level 3 or 4 out of 10? I mean I feel positive at the moment because I'm getting better slowly, but I wouldn't be able to live with this type of pain for years? I can't go to the store or anything especially if they don't have any place where I could sit down and rest every 3 minutes or so.
Thanks for taking your time to read this and hopefully answer