What is Piriformis Syndrome?




With over 200,000 cases in the United States per year, piriformis syndrome is a common condition in which the flat, narrow piriformis muscle compresses or pinches the sciatic nerve. Located in the buttocks near the hip joint, the piriformis muscle helps enable people to lift and rotate the thighs, maintain balance and even walk. The sciatic nerve runs closely to the piriformis muscle and can easily become pressured or irritated when this muscle contracts or spasms. When the sciatic nerve becomes compressed, pain, weakness and other symptoms typically follow quickly.

While runners and other professional athletes are typically most familiar with piriformis syndrome, this condition can also affect non-athletes and is usually treatable. Although most cases of sciatica are not the result of piriformis syndrome, long-term treatment depends upon a comprehensive and accurate diagnosis. By scheduling a consultation at Minimally Invasive SpineCARE®, you can take the first step toward determining the underlying cause of your sciatic pain, whether it be piriformis syndrome or something else, and obtaining relief.

Causes

There are a wide array of ailments, injuries and other factors that can cause or contribute to piriformis syndrome, but some of the most notable are:

  • Repetitive, improper movements or physical activities, such as those commonly found in long-distance running, sitting for lengthy periods of time and/or sports
  • Sudden injury, trauma or accident causing irritation to the piriformis muscle or nearby areas, such as the hip or sacroiliac joint
  • Previous injuries near the back, pelvis, piriformis muscle or sciatic nerve
  • Obesity
  • Family history and gender (females are statistically more likely to suffer from piriformis syndrome than males)

Although the above frequently contribute to piriformis syndrome, almost anyone can contract this condition. Through regular exercise, good posture, properly lifting heavy objects and avoiding lying or sitting for long periods of time, it is often possible to prevent the development of piriformis syndrome.

Symptoms

Because the piriformis muscle is located in the buttocks, symptoms and accompanying pain are usually localized. However once the sciatic nerve is affected, pain can radiate throughout the lower limbs and extremities. Symptoms of piriformis syndrome include:

  • Tenderness, pain, numbness or tingling in the buttocks or along the back of the leg that intensifies without activity
  • Difficulty participating in daily activities
  • Aching, soreness or tightness in the buttocks that can worsen with long periods of sitting, running or walking up or down stairs
  • A noticeably reduced range of motion through the hip joint
  • Discomfort when light pressure is applied over the piriformis muscle
  • Sharp pains that travel down the leg to the foot

Unfortunately, the symptoms of piriformis syndrome closely mimic the hallmark indicators of other back complications. For this reason, it is important to speak with a medical professional as soon as possible. Doing so will allow you to rule out other conditions like a herniated disc, a bone spur or spinal stenosis.

Our Minimally Invasive Treatment Approach

Piriformis syndrome can cause intense pain and may hinder you from engaging in your daily routine. However, you do not have to accept pain or other symptoms as an unalterable aspect of your life. Through personalized, patient-centric care and innovative treatments, the team of highly-trained spine specialists at Minimally Invasive SpineCARE® is often able to help patients fully recover from piriformis syndrome. From diagnosis to recovery, we are committed to ensuring that you have a positive experience and that your quality of life is improved through safe, evidence-based solutions.

During your initial appointment with Minimally Invasive SpineCARE®, one of our spine experts will conduct a compassionate and thorough examination of your symptoms, medical history and physical state. At this consultation, we may request or review your MRI, C.T. scan, X-rays or other imaging tests to rule out other common injuries and ailments. Because there is no definitive test for piriformis syndrome, we will also conduct a detailed physical. During this physical, we may ask that specific exercises affecting the piriformis muscle are performed to ascertain if it is the correct muscle causing your discomfort. Additionally, through our state-of-the-art facilities, we can implement advanced pain-mapping procedures to pinpoint the exact cause and location of your pain.

Generally, we encourage patients to consider conservative, non-invasive treatment options before opting for surgery. Studies affirm that many of the following methods of care can be extremely beneficial for patients suffering from piriformis syndrome and may provide complete relief:

Medication: Oftentimes, anti-inflammatory medications can lessen the effects of piriformis syndrome. Localized injections of pain-relieving medications may also significantly reduce the amount of discomfort experienced by a patient for as long as 6 months, in which time the patient’s case of piriformis syndrome may be resolved through other treatments.

Physical Therapy: By guiding the body through specialized exercises and performing therapeutic massage, physical therapists can sometimes manipulate the piriformis muscle into its proper place while reducing swelling and pain. Other physical therapy modalities, such as heating and cooling treatments, can also yield positive results for patients facing piriformis syndrome.

Life Adjustments: Even if your case of piriformis syndrome has cleared, it is important to prevent future episodes by exercising an appropriate amount and evading situations that may aggravate the piriformis muscle. Sitting or lying down for long periods of time, as well as improperly lifting heavy objects, may cause piriformis syndrome to become worse or resurface.

Although non-surgical treatments allow the majority of patients to obtain optimal healing, severe cases of piriformis syndrome may necessitate surgical intervention. At Minimally Invasive SpineCARE®, our acclaimed surgeons offer some of the most advanced minimally invasive options available today. When compared to traditional open surgeries minimally invasive procedures yield many advantages, such as:

  • Tiny incisions
  • Less blood loss and very little (if any) scarring
  • Minimal trauma to surrounding muscles and other soft tissues
  • Quicker recovery times that let patients to quickly return to work and other daily activities faster
  • Rapid pain relief

Fill out the form on this page or call us directly at 972-255-5588 if you would like to learn more about piriformis syndrome, available treatments at our facility or the team behind Minimally Invasive SpineCARE. We look forward to speaking with you and helping you beat this painful condition!

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