Located in the buttocks by the hip joint, the piriformis muscle contributes to almost every motion of the hips and legs. If this often overlooked muscle becomes irritated, it may affect the nearby sciatic nerve. When inflammation or irritation of this flat band of tissues results in numbness, tingling, and other pain-related symptoms, it results in a condition called piriformis syndrome. The Los Angeles spine surgery experts at The Spine Institute want to share some crucial information about this condition.
Signs and Symptoms
Piriformis syndrome often results in occasional numbness and pain in the buttocks and hips. The resulting irritation sometimes extends to the sciatic nerve, which runs from the lower back to the legs. Though sciatica and piriformis syndrome are sometimes linked, sciatica often occurs without irritation to this muscle. Signs and symptoms of piriformis syndrome may also include:
- Pain from prolonged periods of sitting
- Discomfort while walking up steps
- Thigh, calf, and foot pain
- Reduced range of motion in the hips
Diagnosis and Treatment
Image testing cannot determine whether the resulting pain is from the sciatic nerve or the piriformis muscle. For this reason, diagnosis is often a process of elimination. Treatment almost always involves exercises to stretch the piriformis muscle in stages to enhance range of motion and decrease the irritation as muscle strength gradually increases.
The exact cause of piriformis syndrome isn’t known, although it’s often the result of some type of irritation to the piriformis muscle, the hip, or the sacroiliac joint. Contributing factors may include:
- Muscle spasms or tightening
- Injury to the piriformis muscle
- Bleeding near the piriformis muscle
As with most muscle-related conditions, piriformis syndrome can sometimes be prevented by paying attention to posture and getting regular exercise to maintain muscle strength. Taking time to do a proper warm-up before running or jogging and avoiding overly repetitious movements can also reduce the risk of developing the condition.
To learn more about piriformis syndrome and other conditions affecting the sciatic nerve, get in touch with The Spine Institute Center at 310-828-7757. We specialize in minimally invasive spine surgery that has proven to help many patients begin living a pain-free life. Call our office today to schedule an in-person evaluation.