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Piriformis Syndrome

Piriformis Syndrome

Piriformis Syndrome what is it?

Piriformis syndrome is a rare neuromuscular condition caused by compression of the sciatic nerve by the piriformis muscle. The piriformis muscle is a flat, band-like muscle found towards the top of the hip joint in the buttocks. Because it stabilises the hip joint and elevates and rotates the thigh away from the body, this muscle is vital in lower body movement. We can walk, shift our weight from one foot to the other, and maintain balance because of this. It’s also employed in sports that require lifting and turning the thighs, in other words, practically every hip and leg motion.

In the body, the sciatic nerve is a thick and lengthy nerve. It runs beside or through the piriformis muscle, down the back of the thigh, and splits into smaller nerves that terminate in the foot. The piriformis muscle can spasm, causing nerve compression.

Symptoms

The most common symptom of piriformis syndrome is sciatica. Others, though, may happen to you. Discomfort is frequently felt in another portion of the body, such as the back of the leg. Referred pain is the term for this.

Other common piriformis syndrome symptoms include:

Buttock numbness and tingling that may spread down the back of the leg

  • Tenderness in the buttocks’ muscles
  • Having trouble sitting comfortably
  • A sitting ache that becomes worse the longer you sit
  • Buttocks and leg discomfort that gets worse with activity

The pain in your buttocks and legs can be so acute in extreme cases of piriformis syndrome that it becomes incapacitating. You could find yourself unable to execute simple tasks like sitting at a computer, driving for long periods of time, or doing home chores.

 

Diagnosis

If you get discomfort or numbness in your buttocks or legs that lasts more than a few weeks, see your doctor. Depending on the reason, sciatica might last for many weeks or longer. If your symptoms come and go regularly, you should consult a doctor.

Your doctor will go through your medical history, symptoms, and any possible reasons for your pain during your appointment. Prepare to go over your symptoms in depth. If you’ve recently fallen or remember straining a muscle while playing sports, tell your doctor about it. It makes no difference if you’re not sure what caused your symptoms.

A physical examination will also be performed by your doctor. To determine which postures cause pain, you will be put through a series of motions.

Some imaging tests may be required to rule out other possible reasons for your pain. Your doctor may use an MRI or CT scan to evaluate whether your discomfort is caused by arthritis or a ruptured disc. If your symptoms appear to be caused by piriformis syndrome, an ultrasound of the muscle may be helpful in diagnosing the illness.

Causes

Every day, the piriformis receives a workout. When you walk or turn your lower body, you use it. Even simply shifting your weight from one side to the other uses it. Long periods of inactivity or excessive exercise might cause the muscle to become damaged or inflamed.

The following are some common causes of piriformis syndrome:

  • Excessive exercise causes overuse
  • Running and other leg-related repetitive activities
  • Sitting for long periods of time
  • Moving hefty objects
  • Extensive stair climbing

Injuries to the muscle might also cause it to press against the sciatic nerve. The following are common piriformis injury causes:

  • An unexpected hip twist
  • A fall
  • A direct impact during a sporting event
  • A vehicle accident
  • A cut that penetrates through to the muscle

Treatment

Piriformis syndrome is frequently self-limiting. The initial steps are usually resting and avoiding activities that trigger your symptoms.

Alternating ice and heat on your buttocks or legs may help you feel better. Wrap an ice pack in a thin towel so it doesn’t come into contact with your skin. For 15 to 20 minutes, keep the ice on. Then, for about the same amount of time, use a heating pad on a low setting. To assist alleviate pain, repeat this procedure every several hours.

Ibuprofen or naproxen are two over-the-counter pain relievers that may help you feel better.

The numbness and pain associated with piriformis syndrome may go away without treatment. If it doesn’t, physical therapy may be beneficial. You’ll learn a variety of stretches and exercises to help you strengthen and stretch your piriformis.

Try lying flat on your back with both knees bent as a simple exercise. Raise your left ankle and place it on top of your right knee. Pull your right knee slightly toward your chest and keep it there for five seconds. Return both legs to their starting positions slowly and repeat the stretch on the opposite side. Then do both stretches again.

In severe cases of piriformis syndrome, corticosteroid injections may be required to assist reduce muscle inflammation. Transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulator (TENS) treatment may also provide relief. TENS is a hand-held device that distributes tiny electrical currents through the skin to the nerves beneath it. The electrical energy activates nerves and blocks pain signals from reaching the brain.

If the pressure on the sciatic nerve persists, you may need surgery to sever the piriformis muscle. This is, however, rarely required.

Risk Factors

Piriformis syndrome is more common in those who sit for long periods of time, such as those who work at a desk all day or watch television for lengthy lengths of time. You’re also at a higher risk if you do frequent, strenuous lower-body workouts.

Prevention

Despite the fact that exercise can induce piriformis syndrome, regular exercise can help lower your risk. Muscles require exercise in order to be strong and healthy. You should do the following to help prevent injuries that contribute to piriformis syndrome:

Before you run or do a strenuous workout, warm-up and stretch.

Increase the intensity of any activity or sport you’re doing gradually.

Avoid running on uneven ground or up and downhills.

Get up and move about so you don’t sit or lie down for too long without doing something.

If you’ve had piriformis syndrome before, you’re at a slightly higher chance of it happening again. Barring a major injury, you should be able to avoid a relapse if you stick to the activities you learned in physical therapy.

Outlook

Piriformis syndrome is a rare illness that can be challenging to identify. Rest and physical therapy are frequently effective treatments.

Staying active while stretching before and after your workout should assist your backside and legs feel better before, during, and after your workout.

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