Archive for the ‘Pain Relief’ Category

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.



Post-Surgery Physical Therapy

October 10, 2012 7 comments

If you’ve read my blog you know by now the surgical procedures I had on July 5, 2012 and the reason I underwent surgery. What you haven’t read yet is that I voluntarily started physical therapy about two weeks ago. I felt compelled to do it because I was still having situational (versus chronic) pain in in the area of my outer hip (near the greater trochanter) and in my IT band.

In two weeks of performing very basic exercises every other day, designed to increase my hip and buttock strength, the situational pain has decreased by around 75%. It is nothing short of a miracle in my opinion.

So, to sum it up, if you have had Piriformis Tendon Release, Greater Trochanteric Bursectomy, Sciatic Nerve Neurolysis or all of them at once (like me) please follow it up with physical therapy. It has helped me tremendously in just two short weeks.

OTC and Prescription Medication

July 28, 2012 2 comments

In my experience there wasn’t a magic pill, patch or combination of pills that provided the relief needed to live a pain-free life. Listed here are the medications I tried and the results. Hopefully I can save you some time experimenting and some potential unwanted side effects.

1. Gabapentin – Sadly, for me, I didn’t experience any pain relief. Furthermore, I became slow to think and react. Family and friends who didn’t know I was taking it asked me what was wrong with me; I wasn’t my normal, witty, happy self. When it came to work I was like a turtle in an office full of rabbits. For me, this wasn’t a medication I tolerated well.

2. Lyrica – I gained about 30 lbs while taking this and didn’t experience any pain relief.

3. St. John’s Wort – This was very effective pain relief. It’s OTC and inexpensive. I never took more than 900mg a day (which usually equates to three capsules, but there are 900mg capsules).

4. Lidoderm Patch – Sadly, for me, I didn’t experience any pain relief.

I recommend finding a caring pain management physician that has experience treating Piriformis Syndrome sufferers. If you come across a physician who isn’t familiar with it you may find yourself having to convince them that you really are in severe chronic pain. Piriformis Syndrome is extremely difficult to prove without a Provocative EMG test. Bring your test results with you to the pain management physician and your credibility may be established more quickly than if you walked in with nothing but complaints and a plea for help. Hang in there. You’re not alone.

Categories: Pain Relief Tags: ,

Tips to Breakthrough Piriformis Syndrome Pain

July 28, 2012 4 comments

Over the last five years I’ve tried countless things to get relief from the pain that would come without fail when sitting.

The three things that worked best for me were Stretching, Icing and a TENS unit (or S.I.T. for short).

I recommend a few stretches, starting with the single-most effective stretch:

1. “Neuro-flossing” is the name it goes by with some. On a side note when I told my surgeon about this stretch he had never heard of it, which is humorous since he knows how to treat piriformis syndrome so well. My guess is that “Neuro-flossing” isn’t a medical term.
Regardless, it was effective for me instantly…I’m talking within a matter of minutes. Try doing this several times a day in hopes of bringing the 8/9 pain down to a 5/6. Rather than trying to explain the stretch to you, just watch this video¬†(it’s an oldie but goody). Here are some other stretches that helped me breakthrough the pain.

2. Ice is your friend, however, it can be a messy, wet, annoying one. For me, ice was also very effective in bringing 8/9 pain down to a 5/6 within 30 minutes. I grew tired of ice packs so I recommend this product.

3. Shock the pain away with a small portable TENS unit. This was very effective for me to not only bring 8/9 pain to a 3/4, it also delayed the onset of pain from coming on as quick as it would otherwise. Now, wearing a TENS unit is not fun, but neither is the pain. It’s a lesser of two evils and an effective means to an end. I liked this unit.

I hope this advice helps some of you bring the pain down a bit. Hang in there. You’re not alone. I encourage others to post their breakthrough methods here to give help and hope to others.

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