-Dr. Bethany Valachi-
Hip pain among dental professionals can be due to a number of factors, however one of the most common is piriformis syndrome. Piriformis syndrome is more prevalent among women than men, and occupations that involve prolonged sitting, such as dentistry, may place women at a higher risk for hip pain than other professions.
The piriformis muscle is responsible for externally rotating the hip and can easily become tight in the operatory when you sit for long periods of time straddling the patient chair. In about 20% of the population, the sciatic nerve runs through the piriformis muscle. In this population, when the muscle becomes tight, it can cause painful sciatica (shooting pain into the buttock and down the back of the leg). With true piriformis syndrome, segments of the piriformis muscle will be quite painful to palpation. Women are 6 times for prone to this problem than are men.
Dental professionals who experience this symptom may consider self-treating the piriformis muscle. If the following interventions do not help resolve your sciatica, you should see a doctor as soon as possible, as there are numerous neurological conditions that also cause sciatica.
How to self-treat your piriformis trigger points:
- Apply warm, moist heat for 20 minutes.
- Treat the trigger point in the piriformis muscle with a Backnobber tool or small ball, according to this video excerpt from the Chairside Stretching & Trigger Point Therapy video course. The Trigger Point Therapy Workbook by Davies is a useful resource that will guide you through specific self-treatment of all the trigger points in the body!
- Perform the piriformis stretch
- Ice afterward, if still painful
- Stand Frequently. A risk factor for piriformis syndrome is sitting for long periods of time.
- Consider a saddle-style stool, which positions you halfway between standing & sitting.
Discover how to select a stool that properly supports your unique lumbar curve in Dr. Valachi’s new CE video course, “Dental Stools and Low Back Pain”.