Piriformis Syndrome is a neuromuscular condition that is caused when the Piriformis muscle, in your buttocks, compresses the Sciatic Nerve that runs directly under it. The Piriformis muscle is a pear-shaped muscle that lies deeper below the Gluteal Muscles and runs from the pelvis to the outer portion of the hip. The Piriformis rotates the hip outward, making the thigh, knee, and foot point outward. Think of a ballet dancer with their legs turned out or doing pirouettes, or a person doing the tree pose in yoga. Your Piriformis helps rotate your hips and legs into this outward rotation. When your Piriformis is over worked or injured, it can cause the muscle to spasm and tighten up. When this happens, the muscle compresses the Sciatic Nerve, causing pain, tingling sensations, and numbness in the buttocks and down into the hamstrings.
Common symptoms of Piriformis Syndrome are:
- Pain or tenderness in the buttock and/or hip region
- Pain that radiates from the buttocks down the back side of the leg and even to the foot
- Numbness or tingling in the buttocks and hamstrings
- A feeling of heaviness or fatigue in the leg
- Pain worsens after prolong sitting, walking, or climbing
Sometimes people will think that they have a problem with their hamstring muscles, when it is the hip and gluteal muscles that are tight and tender, not necessarily their hamstrings that is causing the pain they are feeling in their legs. If these symptoms sound like what you are experiencing, talk to your doctor to get a confirmed diagnosis of what may be causing your symptoms.
In more severe and chronic cases, injections and even surgery may be recommended by your doctor. Hopefully between the stretches, exercises, massage therapy or acupuncture treatments, with some self-care at home, you will not have to get to that point. Remember, early detection and diagnosis is best, so do not hesitate to ask your doctor or see your physical therapist is your symptoms last more than week. Acute is easier and faster to address and treat than a chronic condition.