When someone begins to experience pain traveling to their leg, a common assumption is that the person may have sciatica, however, it may not be the case at all. For some people, the pain may be a sign of a condition known as Piriformis Syndrome.
What is Piriformis Syndrome?
You may ask, “What is Piriformis Syndrome or even “what is a piriformis?” First the piriformis is a flat muscle located in the buttocks region near the top of the hip joint. The muscle’s purpose is to help stabilize the hip and to aid in abduction and external rotation of the hip (raise and rotate outward). The muscle can cross over the sciatic nerve or the nerve may even pass through the muscle. If there is pressure on the nerve due to pressure from the piriformis muscle that results in pain traveling into the buttock and lower extremity, it is called Piriformis Syndrome. The difference lies in the cause of the pain.
What’s the Difference Between Piriformis Syndrome and Sciatica?
Both Piriformis Syndrome and Sciatica cause irritation of the sciatic nerve; however in sciatica, the irritation of the nerve arises directly from the lumbar spine (low back). With Piriformis Syndrome, the muscle tightens which compresses the sciatic nerve, causing irritation.
As mentioned earlier, a common sign/symptom of Piriformis Syndrome is dull pain radiating to the buttocks, leg, and foot. Other signs/symptoms include pain when walking upstairs or at an incline, sitting for an extended amount of time, and a decrease range of motion in the hip joint.
Home Exercises for Piriformis Muscle
Various physical and vigorous activities that involve the repetitive motion of opening and closing the legs may weaken those muscles (adductors and abductors), thus causing the piriformis muscle to be overused and become spasmodic. However, other motions and activities can just as likely be culprits, such as rowing, running, cycling, and climbing. It should also be noted that about 50% of patients with Piriformis Syndrome have a history of trauma either directly to the buttocks or to the hip and lower back region.
There various treatments to help relieve the symptoms of Piriformis Syndrome. If you have any of the signs or symptoms and suspect you have the condition, it is best to receive a proper diagnosis at our office so that you can get the most appropriate treatment.