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Piriformis syndrome occurs when the piriformis muscle, the band-like muscle in the buttocks located near the hip, compresses the sciatic nerve. The sciatic nerve is a long thick nerve that runs alongside the piriformis muscle and down the back of the leg where it branches off into smaller nerves in the feet. Spasms in the piriformis muscle as a result of trauma, injury, or irritation can cause the muscle to tighten or swell compressing the sciatic nerve. The piriformis muscle is responsible for stabilizing the hip joint, and is therefore a vital component in lower body mobility. When the piriformis muscle is irritated pain and instability result. Sufferers of piriformis syndrome report pain, tingling, numbness or a dull ache in the gluteal region, reduced range of motion and/or a sensation of severe pain running down the sciatic nerve, similar to sciatica. Pain can be made worse by sitting, climbing stairs, running or squatting.
Although there is no test to diagnose piriformis syndrome, a diagnosis can be made by ruling out other possible conditions with similar symptoms such as a herniated disc or sacroiliac joint dysfunction. The doctors at Genesis Orthopedics & Sports Medicine can give you a full physical exam to pinpoint the source of the pain and provide a specialized treatment plan.
To reduce severe sciatica pain from piriformis syndrome, Genesis Orthopedics & Sports Medicine may suggest a corticosteroid injection in the piriformis muscle to help alleviate compression on the sciatic nerve and decrease spasms and pain.
Physical therapy can be beneficial to sufferers of piriformis syndrome. Genesis Orthopedics & Sports Medicine may recommend physical therapy exercises to improve mobility in the hip and ease the tightness and spasms in the piriformis muscle. Depending on the severity of the case, physical therapy may be used with a cortisone injection for immediate relief.