A lot of people incorrectly refer to their buttock and/or leg pain as sciatica. True sciatica is the term for leg pain – that usually travels down below the knee – that results from an inflamed sciatic nerve. The nerve is usually irritated by a bulging disc in the low back.
Myofascial pain (aka pain in the muscles and fascia) can also cause leg pain; but usually only above the knee. This pain, although it feels almost the same as sciatica, is correctly termed, referred pain. In other words, the pain refers down the leg, from its original source – an overactive muscle found in the buttocks. This overactive muscle can be thought of as a muscle knot and is usually found in the gluteal or piriformis muscles.
Both types of leg pain, are indeed painful and do feel the same; but only one of these diagnoses can be alleviated with trigger point therapy.
For best results, use the following trigger point protocol:
- Locate a trigger point in the buttock.
- Apply pressure using a tennis ball, until you feel the pain increase (you may notice pain refers to other areas – groin/leg).
- Maintain pressure (usually 20 seconds – 2 minutes) until pain disappears to 0 or 1/10.
- Locate 2nd, 3rd, 4th trigger points.
- Carry out trigger point therapy on both sides – even if your pain is one-sided.
- Stretch the gluteal/piriformis muscles after trigger points.
Finish the self treatment by drinking a large glass of water, to wash away the lactic acid released from over active muscle tissue.