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Archive for July, 2013

Piriformis Syndrome Surgical Release Challenges

July 22, 2013 176 comments

I’ve been meaning to write this post for many months, and I’m sorry it took me so long to do so. I want to share some general knowledge I learned from Dr. John Heinrich’s PA Adam. In one of my conversations with Adam I asked him why this surgery was so complicated. Adam replied that one of the reasons was because there wasn’t a surgical cutting tool specifically designed to clear/free the sciatic nerve of fascial adhesions or scar tissue. An ideal cutting tool would be specifically designed to get around the sciatic nerve in a 360 degree fashion. I’m proof that an idealistic cutting tool is not necessary to be cured surgically from Piriformis Syndrome. But, the surgeon’s skills and experience are that much more critical. Please do your homework before making a decision to allow a surgeon to perform this surgery on you. You may be asking yourself how things could possibly get any worse if you don’t have surgery. You are desperate, and I totally get that. My heart goes out to you; you are the reason I created and maintain this blog. But, please know that there are people (people I have communicated with personally) that have not been cured or are worse off as a result of Endoscopic Piriformis Release and Sciatic Nerve Neurolysis. Please note that none of these unfortunate people I have spoken with were treated by Dr. John Heinrich. There is risk and you have to weigh the reward. I felt the risk was acceptable after doing years of research and exhausting all other options. Dr. John Heinrich was the surgeon for the job, and I thank God nearly everyday for his abilities.

Best Regards,

Matt

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An Unimaginable Weekend

July 22, 2013 19 comments

If there was any doubt that I am cured from chronic pain caused by Piriformis Syndrome let me recap my weekend. I ran a total of six miles on Friday, played 18 holes of golf (at a course 1.5 hours from home) on Saturday and another 18 holes on Sunday. And, if that wasn’t enough, I did 1.5 hours of yard work late Sunday afternoon.

This was a weekend I could only dream of until recently…until I took a hard look in the mirror and said what more can I do to break through the recovery ceiling from surgery. The answer was counter-intuitive…I needed to exercise and be active. Surgery is the primary reason I am cured because exercise without surgery was useless. For me, I needed to change my lifestyle and become active once again about one year after surgery to truly attain my goal of being pain free 24 hours a day 7 days a week. The reason I didn’t make the choice to change my lifestyle sooner was because I was terrified I would trigger the chronic Piriformis Syndrome pain to resurface. I am no longer scared. Exercise is what my body needs.   

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One Year Post-Surgical Anniversary

July 6, 2013 26 comments

One year ago today Dr. John Heinrich and his PA Adam performed an endoscopic piriformis tendon release and sciatic nerve neurolysis, along with a bursectomy of my greater trochanter. So in honor of the occasion I jumped in my car, rolled down the windows and turned up the volume and just drove. I drove aimlessly for three hours with absolutely no pain or discomfort of any kind. A little over a year ago a thirty minute drive would have resulted in crippling pain that would have taken a day to recoup from. After my drive I felt so great that I decided to hit some golf balls, then play with my kids, and lastly barbecue some steaks, salmon and tuna. It was a perfect day. I owe my life to Dr. Heinrich and his PA Adam. They gave me a second chance to lead a normal active life, free of pain and misery.

I want to make certain that I am very clear and concise with the following comments in this post because when I said “They gave me a second chance ” I am stating that my well-being is now in my hands and that I have a responsibility to myself, my family, my friends and my employer to do what needs to be done in order to stay on a path of recovery and serenity. Over the last six months I’ve discovered that I HAVE to routinely do hip, abdominal, and leg exercises to avoid experiencing situational (not chronic) pain. Let me explain….

Surgery was successful in curing my chronic pain virtually overnight. However, if I don’t do the exercises that I learned at physical therapy I start having situational pain which feels very similar to Piriformis Syndrome chronic pain but not as intense (more like a 4/5 out of 10 vs. 8/9) and is very localized to the piriformis muscle location. It does not traverse the sciatic nerve path down the back of my leg.

More about the exercises, and how I figured out the importance of them…

I was feeling so good about three months after starting physical therapy that I posted I was cured, free of all pain. I was feeling so good that I stopped exercising. A couple months after that, I started feeling some pain again after sitting for 3 to 4 consecutive hours. I tried stretching and flossing, but the situational pain wasn’t getting any better, in fact it was getting worse. However, it was not as impactful or intense, and was easy to manage because all I had to do was stand up or lay down and the pain vanished. Then it hit me, I hadn’t been exercising. So, I started the exercise routine again, and within a couple weeks I was back to a totally pain free existence.

I can’t explain why exercising is so important to my recovery, and to living a pain free life, but without a doubt it makes a HUGE difference. In speaking with Adam today, he confirmed that he and Dr. Heinrich are learning the exact same thing. To date they have performed 80-100 endoscopic piriformis tendon releases with similar results to me; an undisclosed number of surgical patients are reporting that the more they exercise the better they feel.

Another lesson I learned was that massages of my hip and IT band are also critical to my recovery. It is very easy for me now to recognize when a massage is needed, and I will teach you how to recognize it as well. All you need to do is to apply pressure (using your fingers or fist) to the hip and IT band starting from just above the knee and extending to just above the area of the hip where the surgical portal scars are. If you feel extremely sharp, superficial pain when pressing you should consider getting a myofascial massage of that area, or if you know what you’re doing just do it yourself. I learned by watching my therapist massage it correctly so I perform it myself now.

What to Expect From the Massage

It will hurt like hell when you do it, and it feels nothing like Piriformis Syndrome pain. It’s very sharp, stabbing, superficial and localized. For several days to a week after the massage it will be sore, but only when there is pressure on the massaged area. When there isn’t pressure there isn’t any pain. I never massaged for more than fifteen minutes at a time, and the end result within about a week was RELIEF every time.

I pray that you all find the relief I have, and that you don’t give up your search for answers. It took me six years to get to where I am today.

Sincerely,

Matt

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