Piriformis Syndrome

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Piriformis SyndromePiriformis syndrome is an uncommon neuromuscular disorder that is caused when the piriformis muscle compresses the sciatic nerve. This muscle is important in lower body movement because it stabilizes the hip joint and lifts and rotates the thigh away from the body. This enables us to walk, shift our weight from one foot to another, and maintain balance.

The sciatic nerve is a thick and long nerve in the body. It passes alongside or goes through the piriformis muscle, goes down the back of the leg, and eventually branches off into smaller nerves that end in the feet.

Signs and Symptoms

Piriformis syndrome usually starts with pain, tingling, or numbness in the buttocks.  The pain is due to the piriformis muscle compressing the sciatic nerve, such as while sitting on a car seat or running. Most cases of sciatica, however, are not due to piriformis syndrome.

Piriformis Syndrome Diagnosis

There is no definitive test for piriformis syndrome.

 Treatment

Rest, ice, and heat may help relieve symptoms. A doctor or physical therapist can suggest a program of exercises and stretches to help reduce sciatic nerve compression.  Some health care providers may recommend anti-inflammatory medications, muscle relaxants, or injections with a corticosteroid or anesthetic.

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