The piriformis muscle is located deep beneath the fat of the buttocks near the gluteus maximus region, and is responsible for making the leg rotate outward on command. Piriformis syndrome is the result of tightness in this muscle, which places force on the sciatic nerve causing pain, tenderness, and numbness in the buttocks that might also radiate down the leg all the way to the calf.
What Causes the Tightness?
Well it can actually be traced to three different sources. The most common being from sitting in the same position for long periods of time, as seen with office workers who sit at a desk all day, vehicle drivers, or even people who play video games for extended periods of time.
The next most common cause of piriformis syndrome comes from accidents and injuries to the buttocks that may occur during a fall or sports injury. The trauma from such incidents causes the piriformis muscle to become inflamed which has the consequence of irritating the sciatic nerve, leading to feelings of pain or numbness. Least common is spontaneous spasming of the muscle itself or nearby muscles, the exact causes of which remain a mystery to medical science.
What are Some Symptoms?
According to some the piriformis syndrome can cause pain in the lower back, groin, perineum, buttock and hip, and can also cause dyspareunia (painful intercourse) and pain in the rectum during defecation. But the most common symptoms are pain in the lower back and/or pain that radiates to the buttocks and down the leg. Often when people talk about the piriformis syndrome they mistake the referred pain from the muscle to be a piriformis syndrome. The difference is that the true piriformis syndrome has neurological symptoms associated with it, such as pain, numbness, pins and needles, tingling and weakness.
Piriformis syndrome is an especially problematic medical condition because once the muscle has been injured, the likelihood of recurrent chronic pain brought on by exercising or sitting for long periods without stretching increases dramatically.
Traditionally, there have been three major treatment plans for those who suffer piriformis syndrome, with medication being the most common. Over-the counter painkillers, anti-inflammatory drugs, and muscle relaxers are all prescribed for those who are afflicted with this painful condition, with the goal of reducing the pain. More extreme cases may even require an injection of medication deep into the muscle itself. The limitations of this sort of pharmacological treatment are that it only masks the pain, and reduces swelling without healing the original injury itself. After medication heat therapy, exercise, and massage are the next most commonly adopted treatment plans.
A more effective way of dealing with piriformis syndrome might be chiropractic care, however. From a chiropractic perspective, the entire body is an integral whole of interrelated moving parts. For this reason, when a chiropractor works to heal a certain part of the body he will also focus on other parts that may at first not appear to have a connection. For example, by treating a foot or a leg, the pelvis, or even the spine, a chiropractor can help to loosen up the piriformis muscle and allow it to heal naturally.
If you find yourself suffering from any of the above issues or symptoms be sure to visit us so we can help get you treated!