I discovered I’m not a diagnostician after meeting with a real orthopedist this afternoon. He shot down my piriformis theory in about two seconds. I went to the same office that screwed up my appointment last time because it’s five minutes from my house and convenience counts. This time the doctor was in. I was curious to find out the true cause of the sciatic pain that I’ve had since early December. After chilling (literally) for 30 minutes in the freezing checkup room, the doctor came in and started asking questions.
After a quick check of the source of the pain, he said, “I think it’s your back.” He took some X-rays and we looked at the results that showed that my hips and pelvis looked fine. I must say I photograph well from the inside. Then we looked at the spinal view where he pointed out compression in my lowest segment – a herniated disc. The disc problem was putting pressure on the sciatic nerve that makes it feel like the injury originates from a lower place.
I asked the doctor if this meant no more running. He said that running wouldn’t do any harm, but I should avoid hills. Yay! The doctor also suggested that I run on a soft, flat surfaces like the track or the treadmill. What he really recommended was to lay off running and focus on the elliptical for the time being. He showed me some stretches that would be beneficial and suggested I keep heat on my lower spine as much as I could.
I’m going back next week to get an MRI. I’ll follow his orders, especially the one about not running hills. I think I can do that one really well. I told the doctor that I’d read that trail running helps injuries because the soft dirt and the constantly changing surface supports many different muscles. He said trail running’s fine, but don’t run hills. So much for Stillwell.
I have my heating pad working and I’ll run through the stretches tomorrow. I’ll stick to the elliptical for now and sneak a treadmill run in when I can. The good news is that I don’t have any torn muscles, tendons, or – apparently – piriformis syndrome.