BPS 7: What You Need to Know About Piriformis Syndrome?

Piriformis syndrome is a neuro-muscular disorder. The condition occurs when the piriformis muscle compresses resulting in pain. The muscle can also cause irritation in the sciatic nerve located nearby. It can result in pain, tingling, and numbness along the back of the leg.

In this post, you will learn what is piriformis muscle and what are the causes and symptoms of piriformis syndrome.

About the Piriformis Muscle

The piriformis muscle is a small muscle located in the gluteal region of the lower limb. The muscle helps in turning the leg and foot outward. This muscle also assists in rotating the hip.

The muscle starts at the lower spine and runs diagonally connecting with the upper surface of the thighbone. The sciatic nerve is located directly below this muscle. In some cases, the nerve runs through the muscle.

What are the Causes of Piriformis Syndrome?

Piriformis syndrome is associated with pain in the buttocks. Researchers are not certain about the exact causes of the piriformis syndrome. Some of the suspected causes of the condition include pain

  • -Tightening of the muscle due to an injury
  • -Compression of piriformis muscles
  • -Muscle spasm due to irritation of a nearby sacroiliac joint
  • -Swelling or Tightening of the muscles due to spasm or injury
  • -Bleeding in the piriformis muscle

Patients commonly complain about tenderness in the buttock area. They also experience sciatica-like pain at the back of the thigh, foot, and calf. Some of the common piriformis syndromes include the following.

  • -A slight pain in the buttocks
  • -Pain when walking up the stairs
  • -Pain at the back of the thigh, foot, or calf
  • -Pain after prolonged sitting, running, or walking
  • -Reduced range of hip joint motion

Diagnosis of Piriformis Syndrome

The piriformis syndrome is diagnosed based on the symptoms and a physical exam. Doctors review the medical history of the patient and carry out a physical exam to exclude possible causes of the buttock pain such as a sacroiliac joint problem or lumbar disc herniation.

The doctor carries out a review of the medical history such as how long the patient experienced the symptoms and whether the pain started after an injury. Also, the doctor assesses what treatments have the patient undergone to get relief from pain. In addition, the medical history review includes finding out a disease that runs in the family such as arthritis.

A physical exam includes examining the legs and hips to find out the source of the pain. In piriformis syndrome, the motion of the hips results in pain. The physical examination also identifies and rule out other causes of the pain through testing for muscle strength and local tenderness.

In addition, the doctor carries out a diagnostic test to confirm that the pain is due to piriformis syndrome. MRI, X-Rays, and nerve conduction tests are carried out to find out the exact cause of the buttock pain. Lastly, the doctor may inject an anesthetic (sometimes with a steroid) to confirm the cause of the pain.

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Robin BackPainExpert

Physiotherapists & Back Pain Expert

Twenty years ago I was lucky to survive a serious hockey injury. In a sport where big men zoomaround on hard ice and solid wood sticks are slung furiously, a difficult back injury is what every player fears.
It took a long time for me to climb back to a normal life. But when I did, I was determined to spend the rest of his life helping back pain victims everywhere.
As a physiotherapist and back pain expert I have treated thousands of patients over 20 years, built a respected back pain clinic, created the site BackPainSecrets.Com and authored the book “Back Pain Secrets.”
Learn more about me here.