Piriformis Syndrome

WHAT IS PIRIFORMIS SYNDROME?

Piriformis Syndrome (PFS) is a neuromuscular disorder much like sciatica in which an inflamed and/or tight piriformis muscle compresses the sciatic nerve (largest nerve in the body). The piriformis muscle plays an important role in lower body movements because it lifts and rotates the thigh away from the body and stabilizes joint movement. When this muscle compresses the sciatic nerve, it results in spasms, numbness, and tingling in the buttocks or hips, all the way to the lower thigh and into the leg.

WHAT ARE THE SYMPTOMS OF PIRIFORMIS SYNDROME?

The Piriformis Syndrome (PFS) usually starts with numbness, pain, and tingling in the buttocks. Pain can be severe while walking, running, standing, or while even sitting on a car seat. Some patients may not be able to climb stairs. This is because applying firm pressure directly over the piriformis muscle causes considerable amounts of pain.

WHAT ARE THE CAUSES OF PIRIFORMIS SYNDROME?

Unfortunately, the exact causes of piriformis syndrome are not yet discovered. However, according to research some suspected causes include

  • Tightening or swelling of the piriformis muscle in response to a spam or injury
  • The condition can be aggravated or caused by sitting with a large wallet in the rear pocket
  • Spasms occurring in the piriformis muscle, either because of the piriformis itself or irritation of a nearby structure like hip or sacroiliac joint
  • Bleeding in the area of the piriformis muscle could result in compression of the sciatic nerve (due to swelling of muscles)
HOW IS PIRIFORMIS SYNDROME TREATED?

The type of treatment varies patient-by-patient and depending on the severity of pain. If pain is caused by certain activities like sitting or lying down, try avoiding positions that may trigger the pain. Heat, rest, and icing can help relieve some pain symptoms.

 

For mild to moderate pain, your physical therapist or doctor may suggest occupational and physical therapy in which a program of stretching and strengthening exercises may help reduce compression of the sciatic nerve.

 

In other cases, Osteopathic manipulative treatment can also be used to increase range of motion and relieve pain symptoms. Some health care specialists may also recommended injections with corticosteroid, muscle relaxants, or anti-inflammatory medications.