Piriformis Syndrome – Why it’s not just a pain in the bum!
If you have ever felt pain, numbness or tingling in your butt, hip or upper leg, you might have experienced piriformis syndrome. This is an uncommon condition, which I have seen increasing and occurs when the sciatic nerve, which runs from your lower back to your feet, is irritated by a muscle in your buttocks called the piriformis.
The piriformis muscle helps you rotate your hip and leg outward. It can become inflamed, tight or swollen for various reasons, such as trauma, overuse, sitting for long periods or running on uneven surfaces. When this happens, it can press on the sciatic nerve and cause symptoms similar to sciatica.
Piriformis syndrome can be hard to diagnose because it can mimic other conditions that affect the lower back and legs, such as Sciatica. At Strong For Life we will ask you about your medical history and perform a physical exam to check for signs of nerve compression. You may also need imaging tests, such as an X-ray or MRI, to rule out other causes of your pain.
The good news is that most cases of piriformis syndrome can be treated with conservative measures, such as rest, ice, anti-inflammatory drugs and muscle relaxants. In most cases, however, receiving physical therapy is often the fastest and most reliable form of recovery from this condition. You may benefit from exercises that stretch and strengthen the piriformis muscle and improve your posture and alignment. Massage therapy can also help relieve pain and spasms.
Treatment of Piriformis Syndrome can include modalities such as:
- Deep tissue release techniques,
- Gentle massage,
- Strengthening exercises.
In very rare cases, surgery may be needed to release the pressure on the sciatic nerve if conservative treatments fail to provide relief. However, this is usually a last-resort option.
To prevent piriformis syndrome from recurring or worsening, you should avoid activities that trigger your pain and maintain a healthy lifestyle. Some tips include:
– Warm up properly before exercising
– Avoid running or walking on hills or uneven surfaces
– Use good posture when sitting or standing
– Take breaks from sitting every 20 minutes
– Eat a balanced diet rich in protein, fibre and vegetables
– Drink plenty of water
– Manage stress with yoga or meditation
Piriformis syndrome can be a painful and frustrating condition that affects your quality of life. However, with proper diagnosis and treatment, you can recover from it and enjoy your daily activities again. We have seen great success with patients of both acute and chronic piriformis syndrome, try not to ignore your pain and ensure to seek proper medical advice.