What is Piriformis Syndrome?
The medical definition explains that Piriformis syndrome is a condition in which the piriformis muscle located in the glutes becomes inflamed. As this muscle is located near the sciatic nerve, this can cause pain, numbness and tingling along the back of the leg all the way down to the foot. In many cases, it is assumed it’s just sciatica and this is where mistakes can be made.
For anyone, when you have piriformis pain, frustration becomes an understatement. For many of us we feel almost stuck, and we are left wondering if we will ever be pain free again. In many cases we try to fix it ourselves with stretching not realizing we can possibly make things worse. In a quest to end the discomfort and get back to normalcy, many will research themselves or go onto forums reading what others are saying about their experiences in the hopes of finding a “cure”.
But, if you really want to know more about Piriformis Syndrome, you need to look at the science behind it. By doing this you can understand what exactly is going on with your glute pain, then you can start using the correct rehabilitation program to get you on your way to recovery.
What are the functions of the Piriformis muscle?
The piriformis muscle is small and very short buried deep within muscle tissue in your hips. The muscle is in each hip and runs from the back of your pelvis to the top of your femur. Because of this positioning the piriformis muscle helps rotate your leg outward when your hip is extended, but also rotates your leg inward and into abduction when your hip is flexed.
Why Piriformis Syndrome sometimes gets confused with Sciatica
The piriformis muscle is positioned adjacent to the sciatic nerve, which is a very thick nerve that runs from the base of your spine along your glute muscles and down the back of your legs. When the piriformis muscle is irritated the sciatic nerve can get irritated too leaving most thinking they only have sciatica. In around fifteen percent of people, the sciatic nerve actually passes through the piriformis, which, according to some researchers, leaves these individuals more susceptible to piriformis syndrome.
What are piriformis syndrome symptoms?
As previously mentioned, because the muscle is so close to the sciatic nerve, an injury to the piriformis muscle can cause similar sciatica-like pain. Therefore, it’s very important to know the difference especially when you are suffering from buttock and leg pain.
Four of the most common findings in patients with piriformis syndrome include:
- Pain in the glute/piriformis region
- Tenderness at a specific spot in the pelvis between the sacrum and the top of the femur—the area the piriformis muscle runs through.
- Worsening of glute and sciatica-like pain with prolonged sitting
- Aggravation or alteration of the pain when the hip and leg are positioned to put tension on the piriformis muscle
Piriformis Syndrome Treatment
There are several different treatment options, and here at Elite Performance Therapy we use a combination of techniques to provide long term relief.
Treatments and rehabilitation largely consist of:
- A thorough consultation to understand any previous medical conditions and lifestyle analysis to determine why the condition may have developed
- A specialized 4 week program of stretching exercises to improve muscle strength & flexibility and prevent further injury and pain.
- Varied deep tissue techniques including Trigger Point Therapy to reduce pain and swelling.
We’ve seen lots of success in reducing pain and swelling allowing our clients to be pain free once again. – Nathan came to us with sciatica type pain and had tried numerous therapist without success. After a thorough consultation we soon discovered his condition had never been correctly diagnosed. We quickly and effectively treated him and now Nathan is pain free!
‘’ I’m so glad I found Isy as she’s the only therapist that’s been able to find the problem points in my back that have been plaguing for years and figure out how to solve them.
I highly recommend Elite Performance Therapy to anyone with unresolved physical issues. Don’t just live with the pain. if anyone can fix the problem, Isy can.’’
If you think you might be suffering from Piriformis Syndrome, give us call or contact us today for a consultation.