Monday, July 18, 2016

The Butt Whacker

Last year, I posted about a medical issue I was dealing with called Piriformis Syndrome (you can read it HERE).  Basically, the piriformis muscle is located under your gluteus maximus and if injured, it can cause irritation of the sciatic nerve that runs under it. As far as pain, my butt aches all the time, non stop, all the time.  While most days it isn't excruciatingly painful, it is bothersome, but on hikes, the pain can become intense.  Any forward uphill movement makes the issue worse.  Adding a 30 pound pack nearly did me in.
I tried physical therapy a year ago and it helped, but only for short periods of time.  Then the aching would return.  After my backpacking trip I was completely convinced that I would never be able to go on trips longer than an overnight because I would be able to go the longer distance and more importantly, I wouldn't be able to carry what I needed for an extended trip because of added weight. Piriformis Syndrome is a very dreary thing.  There isn't much hope of it going away for good.  Your options for treatment include physical therapy, cortisone shots, botox or surgery.  And surgery isn't a guarantee fix.
So, at a recent doctor's appointment, I mentioned that I thought my hips seemed to be tilted- one side was higher that the other (and the higher side was the side with the muscle problem).  I asked if this could be part of my problem and he said yes.  He recommended I go to a chiropractor to get it looked at an see what they could do.  After asking around for a good chiropractor, I finally made an appointment.  During my first consultation, the Chiropractor told me he didn't think that I had piriformis syndrome, and I nearly wept with joy.  Turns out, I was right.  My hips were badly misaligned (from the fall 2 years ago) and this was pulling on my muscle.  In fact, it was so badly misaligned that my left left appeared short than my right.  This was throwing my whole gait off for 2 years. 
After my first adjustment, I felt better.  The pain was still there, but had moved.  Muscles in my hip were starting to work the way they were supposed to and were sore because of it.  I've had 3 visits, and I improve each time I'm there.  I actually had my first pain free day in 2 years this past Friday and it was glorious. And last night I went for a 1.5 mile walk, and there was no pain in my butt or hip (just my sprained ankle). I'm not back to 100% yet, but there is improvement.  I'm looking forward to starting to get back to hiking and backpacking
(once I get my repaired packs back from Osprey).
(In case you're wondering, the term "Butt Whacker" was my play on "Back Whacker" which is what my cousin refers to her chiropractor as)

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