WHAT IS PIRIFORMIS SYNDROME?
The piriformis muscle is a narrowed muscle located deep in the buttock region and assists in the external rotation of the hip. The sciatic nerve runs directly beneath or through the piriformis muscle. Piriformis syndrome occurs when this muscle entraps the sciatic nerve, giving rise to sciatica-like pain.
WHAT CAUSES PIRIFORMIS SYNDROME?
The exact causes of piriformis syndrome are unknown, however suspected causes include:
- Piriformis muscle spasm due to irritation of nearby structures such as sacroiliac or hip joint
- Direct trauma to the area leading to inflammation
- Prolonged sitting or sitting with your wallet in your back pocket
- Climbing stairs or running uphill
WHAT ARE THE SYMPTOMS OF PIRIFORMIS SYNDROME?
- Buttock pain or tenderness
- Pain worsens with prolonged sitting or exercising on inclines
- Reduced external rotation of the hip
- Sciatica-like symptoms: numbness, tingling, burning sensations that radiates along the back side of the affected thigh, calf, or foot
HOW IS PIRIFORMIS SYNDROME DIAGNOSED?
- Review of medical history and physical examination
- Imaging modalities to rule out other possible causes from the lumbar or pelvic region
- Diagnostic injection into the piriformis muscle
HOW IS PIRIFORMIS SYNDROME TREATED?
Treatment options may include:
- Short-term rest
- Icing or heat therapy
- Physical therapy
- Over-the-counter or prescription medications
- Therapeutic injections: steroid injections, regenerative injections
- Surgery if symptoms persist despite non-operative therapies
HOW IS PIRIFORMIS SYNDROME PREVENTED?
- Stretching before activity
- Good posture with movement
- Avoid exercising on hills or uneven surfaces