Piriformis Syndrome – It Can be a Pain in the Butt

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female hand holding her bottom because having abdominal pain

Located in the pelvic and hip region, the piriformis muscles are vital for almost all leg movements. These flat muscles connect the femur bones to the spine, running down through the pelvis to the top of the thigh bone. If this muscle becomes inflamed, it can press on the sciatic nerve that also passes through the pelvis. When this occurs, it can cause localized discomfort and other symptoms, a condition called piriformis syndrome.

Symptoms of Piriformis Syndrome

Sciatica is irritation of the sciatic nerve that occurs in the lower back. Piriformis syndrome is similar, but it is more localized in the hip and buttock region. The sciatic nerves are the largest in the body, running from the lumbar spine down through the pelvic region into each leg. When compressed from inflammation in the piriformis muscle, it can cause the following symptoms:

  • Burning sensation in the buttocks, hip, or thigh
  • Aching or pain in the hip, buttocks, or thigh
  • Pain may shoot down the buttocks into the hip and thigh
  • Numbness or weakness in the buttocks or hip

In most cases, piriformis syndrome will only happen on one side of the body. The symptoms tend to get worse when climbing stairs, walking, running, or sitting for long periods.

Causes of Piriformis Syndrome

Anything that causes inflammation of the piriformis muscles can result in piriformis syndrome. This can include injuries that strain the muscles, often from not stretching or warming up before running or other physical activities. Climbing several flights of stairs can injure the piriformis muscles in people who are not in good physical condition. Sitting for long periods can also cause pressure on the sciatic nerve in the pelvic region. Some of these activities can cause scarring on the piriformis muscles that may result in chronic symptoms.

Relief from Piriformis Syndrome

Most cases of piriformis syndrome are temporary. Once the muscle heals after a strain, the inflammation will decrease, and the symptoms will go away. Sudden piriformis syndrome can be treated with rest, anti-inflammatory medications, and ice packs placed on the buttocks or hip. If the symptoms do not dissipate in a few days, treatment may be required.

Piriformis syndrome treatment may include physical therapy, massage, steroid injections, or Botox injections. Surgical intervention is rarely needed as conservative and minimally-invasive treatments are usually effective at providing relief. Many patients with piriformis syndrome can benefit from combining stretching and strengthening exercises along with treatments to relieve the inflammation.

If you have symptoms of piriformis syndrome that are not responding to home remedies, contact our team at Allied Pain & Spine Institute. We offer a multi-disciplinary approach to pain management that can combat the pain associated with this condition. Call one of our medical centers in San Jose, Los Gatos, Morgan Hill, San Leandro, or Mountain View, CA, to schedule an appointment with one of our physicians.

Posted on behalf of Allied Pain & Spine Institute