Piriformis syndrome is a type of neuromuscular disorder that is not very common. It happens when the sciatic nerve gets compressed by the piriformis muscle.
The piriformis muscle is a ribbon-like muscle present in the saddle area near the upper part of the hip joint. This muscle’s function is to stabilize the hip joint and to make possible the lifting and rotation of the thigh away from the torso. Thus, this muscle is very important for the movements of the lower part of the body.
The sciatic nerve goes through this muscle. It is quite thick and takes a very long path, starting from the lower back, going down the back of the leg and divides into two different branches. Spasms of the piriform muscle may take place, causing spinal compression and places pressure on the sciatic nerve, and in turn leading to piriformis syndrome.
Symptoms of Piriformis Syndrome
There may be many signs and symptoms for this condition, but sciatica is the major symptom, due to the irritation of the sciatic nerve. Sometimes, the patient feels moderate or severe discomfort in other parts of the body, such as the back of the leg. This is termed as referred pain. Some of the other common symptoms that occur due to piriformis syndrome are the following:
- Numbness or tingling sensations in the saddle area, that may go down to the back of the leg.
- Tenderness of soft tissues in the saddle area
- The patient is unable to sit comfortably
- Pain in the buttocks thatis felt while sitting, which is aggravated during prolonged periods of sitting
- Pain in the hips and legs that is aggravated during a workout.
- In some cases, pain is so severe that it leads to disability. The patient is unable to perform routine tasks such as driving, sitting in an office chair, or other household activities.
If Sciatica is the main symptom a patient experiences, it is recommended to seek professional medical advice in order to obtain a diagnosis of piriformis syndrome, by undergoing a physical examination or even imaging tests, as sciatic nerve compression can also be caused by other spinal conditions, such as disc herniation. It is rather important to have a confirmation of this diagnosis as the necessary treatment may differ depending on the cause of the issue.
Causes of Piriformis Syndrome
There may be many causes for piriformis syndrome but some of the main ones include:
- Muscle overuse due to excessive workouts
- Running for more than the recommended time
- Repetitive activities which involve the leg muscles
- Sitting for long periods of time without taking any break for stretches or walks
- Repeatedly lifting heavy weights
- Extensive stair climbing
- Injuries to the piriform muscles, which may take place due to a bad fall, any hit to this region during sports, a penetrating wound that extends up to this muscle or a sudden twisting movement of the hip.
Management of Piriformis Syndrome
Below there are some of the treatment modalities for piriformis syndrome:
Cold Packs and Massage with Ice
When pain starts, lie in a prone position on your stomach and apply a cold fomentation such as an ice pack on the aching area for 15 to 20 minutes. Repeat the practice after every two to four hours as per requirement. You can add a gentle massage with ice.
Lie in the prone position and ask someone to gently massage your aching area with an ice pack. Avoid placing any ice directly on the skin, to avoid any damage. Instead, use an ice pack wrapped in a piece of cloth and then place it onto the painful region.
It has proven helpful for some patients to apply both hot and cold packs, in an alternative manner. If you want to apply a heating pad, again lie in the prone position and gently apply the heat pad. Do not lie in the prone position on a heating pad because it may result in skin burns.
Stretches and Exercise
The piriformis muscle can be made stronger by various stretches and exercises. If performed correctly, the exercises help in relieving muscle spasms and pain. Here are some examples of exercises that you can perform:
- Lie in a supine position keeping legs in the extended position. Move the aching leg towards the chest by making a grip at the knee and ankle. Move the knee towards ankle on the opposite side of the body until you feel a stretch.
- With the aching leg, make a cross over the other knee and bend both legs while lying in a supine position. Move the lower knee to the shoulder until you feel a stretch.
A transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation unit is applied to the saddle area, which blocks the pain and corrects the spasms of the muscles. An interferential current stimulator can also be used for this purpose.
Other treatments for piriformis syndrome include: injections with botulinum toxin, injections with a local anesthetic, and muscle relaxants. However, more conservative treatments are suggested as a first step in treating this condition.
Treatment and Prevention of Piriformis Syndrome
To treat and prevent piriformis syndrome, we suggest you try the Backrack™ device. It’s a spinal decompression device designed for home use. With the help of Backrack™ technology, you can treat all common spinal conditions safely at home, including piriformis syndrome. It’s a 100% safe, CE marked product endorsed by the world’s top spinal specialists and physiotherapists.
The Backrack™ device works directly on the root cause of the piriformis syndrome, so you get permanent pain relief without taking any medicine. All you have to do is to perform easy exercises that are specially designed for this device. It’s a natural treatment for not only piriformis syndrome but for other spinal conditions such as sciatica, hip pain, neck pain, spinal stenosis, herniated disc, and postural disorders. To learn more about the Backrack™ device, please visit the above provided link.
Author: Spinal Backrack