Piriformis syndrome is when the piriformis muscle in the buttocks compresses the sciatic nerve. The sciatic nerve is the largest in the body and runs from the lower back down the back of each leg.
The piriformis muscle is responsible for rotating the thigh outward and abducting the thigh (moving it away from the midline of the body). It is also involved in stabilizing the hip joint.
This painful condition is characterized by back, hip, and buttocks pain radiating down the leg. It can result from injury to the muscle or compression to the nerve through a muscle spasm or contracture. Additionally, pressure on the sciatic nerve can cause this condition if there is irritation to the piriformis muscle, which runs alongside it.
Causes of Piriformis syndrome
Piriformis syndrome is thought to be caused by a number of factors, including:
- Overuse: The piriformis muscle can become overused, especially in people who sit for long periods or participate in activities involving a lot of twisting or squatting.
- Trauma: A sudden twisting motion or a direct blow to the buttocks can injure the piriformis muscle.
- Imbalance: An imbalance in the muscles of the lower back and buttocks can stress the piriformis muscle, leading to compression of the sciatic nerve.
- Degeneration: The piriformis muscle can degenerate over time, making it more likely to compress the sciatic nerve.
As such, its symptoms are similar to those of sciatica.
Symptoms of Piriformis Syndrome
The symptoms of piriformis syndrome vary from person to person. The most common symptom is buttocks pain radiating down the back of the leg. The pain may be sharp, dull, or aching. It may be worse when you sit, stand up, or walk. Other symptoms may include:
- Numbness or tingling in the leg
- Weakness in the leg
- Difficulty walking
- Pain that is worse at night
Effective Piriformis Syndrome Treatment Options
The condition has no medical treatment but may go away independently with rest and home remedies while being treated with Exercise and stretching. Still, in some cases, medication is required to remedy it so you can have a whole and active life! Read more below for specific details about piriformis syndrome treatment.
One of the first treatments for piriformis syndrome is rest and avoiding the activities that trigger pain. Resting can be one of the most complex treatments, but it is necessary to allow your muscles to relax and let the irritation in the nerve subside. Some people find that sitting for long periods causes their piriformis to ache, so while rest is necessary, keep moving more slowly.
Heat and cold therapy
Heat and Cold are excellent treatment options for managing the symptoms of piriformis syndrome.
At the first sign of an attack, cold therapy by a Cold therapy pack application can help numb the area; using a cold pack in the form of ice is indeed one way of alleviating pain. The process works by interrupting the signal sent through the neural pathways. Apply Cold packs for 10-15 minutes every day.
SACKSY THYME Cold Therapy pack for Piriformis Syndrome:
The SACKSY THYME Cold Therapy pack is an excellent option for those suffering from piriformis syndrome. It is designed to provide targeted relief to the affected area by reducing inflammation and swelling. The pack contains a proprietary blend of natural herbs and grains, including thyme, which is known for its anti-inflammatory properties.
Heat therapy can also be helpful when starting to treat your piriformis syndrome. Using an Everywhere Versatile Herbal heating pad on the affected area at least three times a week while working with stretches is a natural way to relieve some of that pain and soothe the inflamed tissue surrounding your piriformis muscle.
SACKSY THYME Microwaveable Herbal Heating pad for Piriformis Syndrome:
Sacksy Thyme Everywhere Versatile Microwaveable Herbal Heating pad is an effective solution for the treatment of Piriformis Syndrome. This heating pad is designed to provide relief to the muscles that are strained due to Piriformis Syndrome. The heating pad is made of high-quality herbs that are known to have therapeutic properties. The herbs are carefully selected and blended to provide maximum relief to the muscles. The heating pad can be easily microwaved and used for a comfortable and effective treatment.
Heat therapy encourages blood flow to the area, promoting healing, allowing the heated tissues to relax muscles, and improving mobility. Of course, you should always remember not to fall asleep with heat near your hip, as heat burns can occur without notice, making things much worse for you!
Alternating Hot & Cold Therapy
Alternating hot and cold therapy, or contrast treatment, uses heat and cold with The Original Sacksy - Microwavable Aromatherapy Hot/Cold Pack to relieve your pain - you can alternate between them for maximum relief. Use an ice pack for one minute and heat for three to four minutes. Alternating between the two temperatures can reduce sciatic nerve irritation, reducing your piriformis syndrome symptoms.
Stretches & Exercises
Stretching and Exercise are primary treatments for many sufferers of piriformis syndrome. Stretching will loosen tense muscles and help you maintain your range of motion. Exercise will work to strengthen the piriformis and surrounding muscles. These movements can be done in the comfort of your home or in a physical therapy office to help you get on track with better health!
Avoid Certain Exercises
Avoiding specific exercises to prevent further injury irritation when you have piriformis syndrome would be best. Sitting for prolonged periods and exercises where pain occurs near the gluteal area should be avoided. During therapy, you should avoid movements where you lift both legs while lying on your back or side-to-side leg rotations. If any sessions cause pain or aggravation, let your physical therapists know immediately so they can modify your routine accordingly.
A massage can be an excellent option for those suffering from piriformis syndrome. Piriformis syndrome is pain and inflammation, specifically in the buttock region. Massage helps relax tight muscles, creating more space for the sciatic nerve to work correctly. One can massage their glute, hip, lower back, and upper leg muscles using high-quality oil or cream and massaging tools. Start slowly, increasing pressure if you are comfortable but maintaining care so that you don't cause undue pain or discomfort yourself. Another option is using a TENS unit.
Chronic pain from piriformis syndrome can make you feel uneasy about being physically active, especially if it is near your hip or leg. For two reasons, you may wear support garments like a compression garment or an elastic bandage that puts pressure on the affected area. One that it eases some pain, and two that wearing a specific support garment in your case gives you a sense of stability and security.
When people develop what's known as piriformis syndrome, they inevitably tend to search online for tips and tricks to relieve their pain. The best position to sleep in with piriformis syndrome is on your back with your legs supported by a pillow or folded towel while keeping your pelvis elevated slightly. This position places the least stress on your sciatic nerve and reduces stretching and stress in the surrounding muscles, which often grow tighter in different positions, like on your side or stomach.
Many consumer products are over-the-counter, which may help reduce pain and inflammation when used correctly. One example would be anti-inflammatory medications, which use a nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drug to alleviate pain by targeting the inflammatory response. Ibuprofen and naproxen (also known as Aleve) fall into this category of medications. Both have similar properties of reducing pain and swelling within the body but have slightly different side effects. You should always consult with your doctor or pharmacist before taking an NSAID or any other medication to ensure you don't have any adverse reactions to it.
Two types of injections can be used for piriformis syndrome. The first and most common type is a corticosteroid injection. This injection allows the doctor to directly inject the painful muscle with anesthetic and anti-inflammatory substances to quickly decrease pain and inflammation caused by the irritated sciatic nerve above it. While this type of shot will help take care of your symptoms initially and make you feel better, it does come with some serious risks you need to consider before giving your doctor your consent.
Another type of injection is Botox. This medication relieves the sciatic nerve by relaxing the muscle that causes it to place pressure on the sciatic nerve, which causes pain. After either injection, you should work with a physical therapist to continue stretching and exercising to decrease pain.
Preventing Piriformis Syndrome
There are a number of things you can do to prevent piriformis syndrome, such as:
- Maintaining a healthy weight: Excess weight can stress the piriformis muscle.
- Regular Exercise can help strengthen the muscles in the lower back and buttocks and reduce the risk of pain.
- Good posture: Good posture can help to reduce stress on the piriformis muscle.
- Avoid sitting for long periods: If you sit for extended periods, take breaks and move every 20-30 minutes.
- Stretch regularly: Stretching the piriformis muscle can help to improve flexibility and reduce pain.
Relieve Piriformis Pain
Sciatica is a condition where the sciatic nerve is compressed or irritated and causes pain in the back, buttock, and upper leg. Sufferers often find relief with rest, ice, heat, stretching, and Exercise. Medical injections may be necessary if those treatments don't alleviate the pain. Always talk to your doctor before you begin treatment to ensure you are on the right path to recovery.