Sports Medicine
A Crucial Period
Good Pain, Bad Pain
On Your Knees
Secondary Injuries
Imaging Technology
What's Sciatica?
The Female Athlete
Putting Your Feet First
Itis Schmitis
Too Much, Too Soon
Under the Influence
What's Goin' On?
Think Inches, Not Pounds
Preventing Vaginitis
That Painful Pull
Athlete's Heart
Exercise & Arthritis
Chilled to the Bone
Measuring Body Fat
Exercise and Your Breasts
Choosing a Sports Doctor
Lean on Me (Shoulder)
Exercise & Anemia
Exercise Abuse
Pelvis Sighting
Hand Aid
It's All in the Wrist
Back in Action
Altitude Adjustment
Tennis Elbow, Anyone?
Exercising in the Heat
Agony of the Feet
Restless Legs
Night Time Cramps
Birth Control Concerns
No Periods, No Babies?
Post Partum Prescription
Weight Loss Mystery
Undesirable Cooldown
To Brew Or Not To Brew
Fitness After Baby
Biking and Back Pain
Swimmer's Shoulder
A Hidden Athlete
Avoiding Osteoporosis
Drug Testing
Maximum Heart Rate
Headway Against Headaches
Torn Rotator Cuff
Fat Figures
Bloody Urine
Sag Story
Lackluster Leg
Bothersome Bulge
Gaining in Years
Taking It On the Shin
Aching Ankles
Tender Toes
Meals For Muscle
Growing Pains
Hot Tips
High Altitude PMS
Personal Bests
Air Pollution
Ankle Blues
Heartbreak Heel
Yeast Relief

What's Sciatica?


Piriformis syndrome is a much less serious problem than an injured disc. It's almost always successfully treated with conservative techniques of stretching and physical therapy.

Your doctor can diagnose this syndrome and differentiate it from a damaged disc by a physical exam and history lab tests and X-ray will appear normal.

To prevent piriformis syndrome from recurring, use a cushion if you have to sit on a hard surface for a prolonged period of time, and stretch your hamstrings and piriformis as part of your warm-up for any activity.

Relief: It's a Stretch

After identifying the specific cause of piriformis syndrome, you can promote healing by avoiding overuse, taking anti-inflammatory medication, letting some time pass and stretching. A physical therapist can show you the best stretches.

Usually the therapist will emphasize stretching your hamstrings and hip extensors (the muscles you use when you extend your leg behind you).

For each session of stretching, do the stretches three to 10 times, holding each stretch for 10 to 20 seconds without bouncing. Your physical therapist also can use ultrasound and resistance stretching techniques (you push against the therapist's hand).

If you don't respond to physical therapy your physician can inject medication into your muscle. In particularly difficult cases, surgery to stretch and separate the piriformis from the nerve cord may help.

Since sciatica can develop from any of a variety of causes, it's important to see your physician ASAP so you can begin an appropriate course of treatment - and get rid of that pain in the rear.

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About the authors: Carol L. Otis, M.D., is Chief Medical Advisor to the Sanex WTA and UCLA student health physician. Roger Goldingay is a former professional soccer player. They are married and the co-authors of The Athletic Woman's Survival Guide.

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Table of Contents

Foreword: Billie Jean King

Comments by Barb Harris
Editor in Chief,
Shape Magazine

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