Advertisements
Home > Pain Relief, Piriformis Syndrome, Surgery > One Year Post-Surgical Anniversary

One Year Post-Surgical Anniversary

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

Advertisements
  1. L
    July 1, 2017 at 8:52 am

    Hi Matt,
    This is Lillian. Last year on four occasions I had steroid injections of which I had no relief at all. The only thing it did for me with Pack on 20 pounds!
    However, this past Tuesday I had more injections into the S1, and piriformis which with guided by x-ray. I have slept every night sense. However, during the daytime my right leg feels like it is attached to a rubber band and it is really pouring in order to move forward and I hurt if I am in the car. I did a brief errand yesterday to the grocery store and my hip was really hurting, in a different way, more to the joint.
    I am much much better than I was last year from this last injection, but I am not well yet, and I do not know how much traveling I would be able to do if I started. I am also a firm believer in the exercises. Over the last year when I would be up numerous hours during the night, because I could not lie down or sit down without getting severely electrocuted, I would do exercises and cook or bake or laundry or numerous other household chores, anything to stay on my feet to keep me from being electrocuted.
    I would certainly like to visit Dr. Heinrich. Where, is Dr. John Heinrich located ?
    I have been trying since September 2016 to get in to see Dr. Adam Starr in Dallas. It is like getting into Fort Knox, you have to go through special procedure, and then if the diagnosis is an exactly right they eliminate you and don’t even call you to let you know. I called them the other day, and after a long run around I was basically told because I did not have any musculoskeletal fractures I did not qualify.
    Thanks for your site and all you have done to help others and I look forward to hearing from you.
    Lillian


    https://polldaddy.com/js/rating/rating.js

    • July 1, 2017 at 9:18 am

      Dr. Heinrich is located in Milwaukee, WI.

      • L
        July 1, 2017 at 2:08 pm

        Matt,
        I have also heard that if the Piriformis Muscle is NOT corrected it will destroy the hip causing need for hip replacement. Is this true, if so, how long till the hip needs replaced ?
        Thanks again, and I look forward to your reply.
        L


        https://polldaddy.com/js/rating/rating.js

      • July 1, 2017 at 2:13 pm

        I’ve never heard of that. I had it for five years and my hip is doing well to date.

      • L
        July 1, 2017 at 4:50 pm

        Matt,
        Perhaps I should reword my question:
        I remember watching a video last year with a doctor somewhere in the UK, he said if the piriformis was not corrected – – I assume by a surgery – clip in the tendons or some type of surgery, it would destroy the hip, ???
        L


        https://polldaddy.com/js/rating/rating.js

      • July 1, 2017 at 4:53 pm

        I can’t really comment on whether that is true. Sorry.

  2. Basheer
    July 17, 2016 at 3:42 pm

    Matt,
    Just wanted to know little more details about your piriformis issue and surgery.
    My email is mbk9@nyu.edu
    Please share your contact number and may be we can talk.
    Regrads,
    Basheer

  3. Betty Rich
    March 26, 2016 at 7:54 pm

    I live in Florida in the winter and Maine in the summer but let me tell you I’m liking what I’m reading here…I was diagnosed with piriformis syndrome almost 19 years ago… I’ve been on disability for 17 1/2 years. Mi did the pills, then the injections, Botox, and many others..Chiro, acupuncture, therapy, tens units to list a few. The last 10 years or so when the pain gets bad I take 5 mg Valium and an ice pack and go to bed…sometimes for a day or two. The last few months the pain has been getting really bad, it’s been 10 plus yrs since its hurt this much for this long….you guys are giving me hope, but not sure I want to go all the way to Wi to see a dr…Any other recommendations would be greatly appreciated….I never knew Matt that there was a light at the end of the tunnel..Most of my new Drs in Florida laugh when I tell them I’ve got PS and I’m on disability. They can’t believe I actually got disability for this. I asked them if they ever knew any one who really had it..None did..Hummm. Thanks for listening. Betty

  4. Misti
    October 1, 2015 at 10:44 am

    Wow- honestly I am amazed I had no idea that so many other people had this strange pain that I also have. I was training for a marathon back in 2011 when I originally hurt myself. the pain was originally in my right groin/hip area. Being an athlete (and stubborn) I thought I could push through the pain and kept running for the weeks following but with a limp and it was incredibly painful. I moved out of the country and for the most part just ‘lived with the pain’ for several years. It was not until Jan of this year that I saw a hip specialist and was sent to PT along with continued chiro visits. They told me I strained my hip when I hurt it originally and the muscles were to week to hold my hip/pelvis in place thus the reason for the pain moving to my butt as well. PT seemed to help some the stretches helped make light exercising and sitting bearable but being a runner at heart I want to be at the at level again. I was released from PT and got very discouraged/depressed over the next few months when I still could not jog one mile without pain. To be honest- I gave up again on running and tried to look for other methods of exercising. I have high anxiety and just not exercising is not an option. I am tired of being told ‘rest & ice’ will help because it’s been 4 years since the injury and in my mind that is rest enough. Recently I started to really pay attention to where my pain was coming from as I always say ‘hip’ and blame it on my weak hips but then when I noticed the pain is in my hip yes but more so in my butt and goes down my leg to my knee sometimes even to my ankle. When I stopped focusing on fixing my busted hip I realized that maybe I have been trying to fix the wrong thing or need a second opinion on what is causing so much pain. I have a long commute to work & am sitting at my desk all day and I spend the day readjusting myself constantly trying to get some relief. I had never hear of piriformis syndrome until today as I always assumed my hip was the culprit of everything else—I have spent the last hour scouring the entire internet and finally landed here…. I can’t believe I have let this pain take over my life for so long without an answer. I don’t know for sure that I have this syndrome as obviously I need ot be diagnosed but it is the only thing that explains all my symptoms. I have tried massage, chiro, PT and nobody can seem to help. I am very discouraged but now hopeful that maybe there will be relief in the future. Thanks Matt best of luck to you.

  5. Mike abruzzo
    May 18, 2015 at 4:03 pm

    Hi Matt and Everyone else!
    I have had piriformis for 3 yrs now and have done all the avenues with no help. I just made an appointment with Dr Aaron Filler for June 3. I have read his reviews and some are very bad. I fly for a living so as you know. I am in pain all day everyday. I live in AZ, so I am asking for feedback from all to what my next move should be. Should I go right to Heinrich and get the surgery or start w injections. Thanks for your help and congrats on your wellness. Hope to be in your shoes soon.
    mike

    • May 18, 2015 at 4:35 pm

      Mike you will likely need an injection into the piriformis muscle as a diagnostic tool. If the injection doesnt help at all, not even for a day, then you may not be a good candidate for surgery. Start there. Things can move quickly after the injection if the result is positive.

    • Richard Lee
      September 22, 2015 at 2:08 pm

      Hi Mike,

      I live in Northern CA and am considering making an appointment with Dr. Aaron Filler. The badd reviews also scared me. Following your appointment what were your impressions of him as a doctor and as a person?

      Many thanks,

      Richard

      • Mike abruzzo
        September 24, 2015 at 1:17 pm

        Hi Richard,
        I cancelled my appointment with filler. Since the I received a piriformis bi lateral injection of cortisone. That lasted for 24 hours. I just found a chiropractor that does dry needle therapy. NOT ACCUPUNCTURE. I have had two visits and so far this seems to be the major that is going to work. He is in Ahwatukee AZ.
        Sports and Family care clinic
        16515 s 40th st
        Ste 133
        Phoenix, Az
        Dr. Akerson
        Sportsandfamilycareclinic.com

        I suggest you come see him or call him to see if he can recommend someone by you.
        3 1/2 years later of searching for relief. This guy gets it. Hope this helps. Let me know

  6. Dawn Romo
    January 8, 2015 at 3:52 pm

    After 35 years (yes, that’s right!) of not being able to sit for any length of time, I will be having the surgery next month. I have tried every other treatment and found temporary relief from pir. muscle injections, but eventually those became ineffective as well. Please keep your fingers crossed for me as I look forward to taking a long drive too!

    • Dawn Romo
      September 22, 2015 at 2:59 pm

      I am now 7 months post-surgery. Mine was not the endoscopic, but full 6 inch incision on my left hip. While I still have occasional discomfort when sitting, my problem has been much alleviated. I’m hoping that it will continue to improve as time passes. I did 8 weeks of PT which helped a little. However, as luck would have it, I have developed coccydenia, inflammation of the coccyx, which now prevents me from sitting too long. Not connected to pir. surgery as this began a year before my surgery. Guess I’m just not destined to make any road trips. Mother Nature is not always kind!

  7. Paulette Little
    July 7, 2013 at 4:52 pm

    Matt, Can you please describe the exercises you do? I find it difficult to do any stretching exercises without inflaming the pudendal nerve, as I have both problems. Thank you! Paulette

    ________________________________

    • July 7, 2013 at 7:47 pm

      Paulette,

      I provided links to images of the exercises I do in a post below. Click on the links to see and learn more about how to perform each exercise. In addition, I am back to jogging on a treadmill two to three miles at a time using an incline ranging from 0 – 5.0.

  8. Valarie Garza
    July 6, 2013 at 6:48 am

    Hey mat, One more thing. Were you doing a lot of stretching ect just one month post op or was that a ” Healing stage” from the surgery? Thanks for any input, Val

    Sent from my iPhone

    • July 6, 2013 at 10:36 pm

      Val, I was stretching on a daily basis at one month post surgery.

  9. Valarie Garza
    July 6, 2013 at 6:38 am

    Mat, Your email was very encouraging to wake up to this morning. I am just 4 weeks out and Dr Heinrich has not put me in pt yet. At my 2 week visit he said I was so flexible and stretching good he was waiting. I am hoping when I see h on the 23rd of this month he sends me in. The initial area that use to hurt no longer hurts, but, I have some off and on ( more on) nerve stuff going on In areas above the area that use to hurt and the sensation goes into my leg and sometimes my foot. It never did that before. So sitting is still not great. He just said to do mild stretching right now. Getting frustrated. He said the nerve stuff could last months to a year maybe. I had a couple good days last week and now it’s that same feeling again. Hoping once I can work out I will feel better. Sorry just has to vent. Went on a 15 min car ride yesterday and hated it. :(. So so happy for you and I hope I can post the same next year!!!

    Sent from my iPhone

    • July 6, 2013 at 11:40 pm

      Val, try not to get too worried or frustrated. You’re only a month out from surgery, and the trauma your body has gone through as a result of the surgery is significant. Even though you only have small portal holes on the outside, the inside of your hip and the surrounding area has been through a lot. You will have good days and bad, good hours and bad, possibly for several months. In my experience I hit a ceiling in my recovery until I went to physical therapy. About two weeks after I started DAILY physical therapy I broke through the ceiling and began being able to sit for four or more consecutive hours without feeling ANY pain or discomfort.

      We’re on the same path Val, I’m just eleven months ahead of you. When you are cleared for physical therapy my hope is that you will start to see the light at the end of this long dark tunnel. Please don’t stop doing the exercises (like I did) after you have your recovery breakthrough. If you stop you may end up noticing situational pain (not chronic) gradually creeping back. The good news is that if you do feel gradual pain coming back it will be a good motivator and reminder to exercise your hip, gluts and abdomen and within a week or two you may be back to normal. I recall the first time the pain gradually started to come back. I didn’t put 2 and 2 together at first. I did exactly opposite of exercising; my instinct was to not exercise, and to just stretch and floss, and lay down on my “good hip” when not at work. That was the worst thing I could have done. It finally dawned on me that Beth told me that I HAD to put in the work to get my body back to 100%. I had Piriformis Syndrome for five years and as a result didn’t exercise for the last three of those five years. I had NO abdominal, or glut, or leg strength when I started physical therapy. I was 40 going on 80.

      I recommend asking Adam or Dr. Heinrich to write you a script for therapy with Beth Zierke at:

      Accelerated Rehabilitation Center
      544 East Ogden Ave, Milwaukee, WI 53202
      (414) 224-7834

      She has a history with Dr. Heinrich, and knows exactly what to do with his piriformis tendon release patients. And, if you have issues with her being out-of-network with your insurance provider she may work with you to provide an affordable solution. I paid her cash at each visit because she was OON for me; she was very affordable and worth every single penny.

      Beth is also the person that taught me how to correctly massage my IT band and hip. That may hurt like hell at first, but, for me, it was so profoundly important to have done. I always feel better within a week after the massage.

      Hang in there. I will be here for you through your recovery.

      Matt

      • Val
        July 7, 2013 at 7:52 pm

        Matt,
        Thank you for the time you take to talk about your personal experience. This is so helpful and encouraging to read. It makes me feel like there may be light at the end of the tunnel. You have been there and truly understand. I decline dinner invitations so often ect ( from my husband included) because I just know 15 minutes into it, I have just had enough. Sometimes is just hard for others to understand. When you said that you got in your car, turned up the volume and drove 3 hours, I was like” That is AWESOME” So thank you for the hope you give us all. I know to me, after almost 3 years, I am looking forward to that feeling you had the other day!!!!! I will also be talking to Dr. Heinrich about Beth.

  10. filipe
    July 6, 2013 at 6:24 am

    Matt I also spent 6 years of very much suffering I am healed luckily my life now I can be happy and thanks also to a Dr. cruz de melo neurosurgeon here in portugal, porto thanks matt

  11. July 6, 2013 at 5:47 am

    Matt- Thank-you for posting this! It is so hopeful to know that this can be overcome and that we can get back to normal activities that others enjoy! People that have not had this type of injury just don’t understand it… They don’t get why we can’t sit or drive, etc. I have been “beating myself up” thinking that I had the surgery and I shouldn’t be feeling any of the pain, etc. I can see it takes time and patience to work through the rest. I am wondering if you would be willing to post the exercises that you have learned and refer to that are so helpful to you? I have found the PTs in my area are not familiar with this type of injury and don’t know how to treat it. I know I would find it helpful, and others might too, if you were able to post those exercises you find address piriformis issues best!

    Again, thanks so much for your post and for creating this site! This is a problem that really needs to be shared to help those of us suffering from it and to help everyone learn more about it! Enjoy your freedom from pain! Heather

  12. loren
    July 6, 2013 at 12:07 am

    Great to hear. Thank you for taking the time to post!

  1. No trackbacks yet.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: