Mar 16, 2014

A Serious Pain in My...

I am suffering from a serious pain in my butt.
And this time it's not my husband.
Casey being SuperDad.
Reading Dear Zoo (for the 586th time) and entertaining both boys.
(Totally kidding. Casey is pretty much amazing. SuperDad. Loving husband. Godly man. Supportive. etc)
Last Monday I had a mildly sore back. It hurt on my very lower back (just above my derrière) on the left side. This lasted a few days until...
As I wrote on Friday, on Thursday I woke up and couldn't walk. Both boys woke up around 5 and I hobbled into the nursery, picked up Davy, called Casey to come get Tripp, and pretty much collapsed. I was on the floor of the nursery and in tears. I limped/hobbled back to bed after we got the boys resettled and promptly fell back asleep. When the boys woke up at 8:45 I went to get out of bed. And fell. My left leg was so weak it couldn't support my weight. I tried crawling and even with that I was screaming with every movement. Thank goodness for my mother-in-law who was coming over that day to play with the boys! I managed to get to the front door to let her in and I honestly don't know how I did it. I really couldn't walk.
I made a few calls in the morning and spoke to the triage nurse at my OBs office to make sure none of the things I was experiencing could be hurting the baby. Because I was experiencing both weakness and pain she said I most likely had sciatic nerve damage and a Chiropractor is the right answer to get my vertebrae realigned to get the nerve unpinched.

I posted on my area moms group (LHAECPTA) and my blog asking for advice and promptly had a few recommendations for a chiropractor. After quickly double checking their recommendations with my insurance coverage I was able to get in for an appointment that afternoon.

I had never been to a chiropractor before and really didn't know what to expect. For that first appointment, it was warm, fuzzy, massagey, stretchy, goodness. Some of the things that happened were uncomfortable don't get me wrong, but by the end of the appointment I had a diagnosis and some amount of mobility back.
The diagnosis: piriformis syndrome leading to sciatica-like symptoms.

So, what is piriformis syndrome?

The piriformis muscle is a TINY pyramid shaped muscle that sits deep beneath the gluteus maximus (in the butt). It helps your hips function and turn outwards. Well, small things can cause big problems. This tiny muscle is the root of my issues.


In piriformis syndrome, this muscle contracts and traps the sciatic nerve causing pain in the lower back, butt, and potentially all the way down the leg and into the foot. In extreme cases, it can cause weakness, numbness, and tingling all the way down the leg and foot. This mimics the symptoms of sciatica and many doctors will call it sciatica for ease of comprehension. (Although technically, sciatica is irritation of the sciatic nerve by either a herniated disc, bone spur or inflammation at the lower lumbar spine causing pain and numbness throughout the branches of the sciatic nerve affecting the buttocks, posterior thigh, calf and foot.). Like in sciatica, piriformis syndrome effects the sciatic nerve and can cause pain all the way down its branches. This is because of the proximity of the piriformis muscle to the sciatic nerve.


In most people, the sciatic nerve sits right behind the piriformis muscle (as seen in group A in the image above). From my understanding of the chiropractors explanation, in these people piriformis pain is painful but not crippling. But, in a small portion of the population (groups B, C, and D in the image above) the sciatic nerve pierces the piriformis muscle so a tight piriformis muscle can actually antagonize the sciatic nerve. It can go so far as to trap the sciatic nerve inside the muscle causing incapacitating pain.

Also, this is genetic. During my appointment I was blaming my dad who had back problems for much of my life. But, when I was telling my mom all that I learned she confessed that she has had crippling piriformis syndrome! And for her, it took nearly six weeks to get over it. So it's her fault!

Pregnancy can't cause piriformis syndrome. But, some changes to the body caused by the pregnancy can make the syndrome more likely to rear its ugly head. During pregnancy, the pelvic floor will shift gradually to accommodate the growing baby. For this to happen, the body releases a chemical called relaxin, which relaxes the pubic symphisis (pubic bone), surrounding ligaments, and joints in the pelvis. The release of the relaxin allows the entire area to widen and gives baby enough space. This can increase the stress and strain on the tail bone where the piriformis attaches, causing the muscle to tighten until it is in a constant state of contraction. And maybe even spasm.

Since Thursday I have been pretty much useless. I can't lift the boys. I can't sit flat in a chair. I can't walk very far without screaming. I can't take care of the boys on my own. I can't be the mom I want to be.
Casey multi-tasking.
Walking the boys around the parking lot of the chiropractor
while making calls for work.

I am so thankful that Casey and I are a team (as he has reminded me over and over the past few days during my down moments!). He worked from home on Friday so that he could take care of the boys. I am able to lay in the baby corral zone and play with them, but I can't get them there, change diapers, or feed them. So Casey worked during nap time and a bit during play time and ALSO took primary care of the boys. He was the one in charge all day Saturday and all day Sunday too. He is seriously SuperDad! The boys and I are so lucky to have him.

But, he can't stay home forever and while we have a plan for our parents to help this upcoming week, I need to get better. I have seen the chiropractor twice. I am religiously doing the stretches she gave me so I can keep the mobility I do have. I am applying heat and ice. I have soaked in a steaming hot bath. I am taking Tylenol (the most useless drug ever but all I'm allowed to have).
Despite all if this, my leg is sore and weak. My butt hurts. My foot is tingling.
And the nighttime nausea I've been suffering from - still happening. Because that's fun.
Basically, everything is terrible.
And I can't take care of my own children.

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