Piriformis syndrome is a neuromuscular (nerve and muscle) disorder that occurs high up in the buttock. It can cause agitating buttock pain, but can be treated conservatively with the support of a medical professional.
It is caused by compression of the sciatic nerve. This is the main nerve that exists the spine and runs down either side of the legs. The piriformis is a muscle that lies deep in the buttock directly beneath the buttock muscle. It is responsible for rotating the leg, lifting the leg away from the body and stabilizing the hip joint. If this muscle becomes chronically tight or suffers an acute tear, it can cause pain and nerve related symptoms in the buttock, back of leg and even in the lower back.
As Piriformis syndrome exhibits similar symptoms to other conditions, it is sometimes necessary to rule out other possible conditions in diagnosis. Diagnostic procedures might include the use of X-Rays or MRI. Upon examination, there may be a history of direct trauma to the buttock, history of repetitive movements of the hip as with long distance running, pain with bending the hip as when sitting, and/or a palpable spasm in the muscle.
What are the symptoms?
- Deep buttock pain which may radiate to back of thigh and calf
- Tenderness with direct pressure of piriformis
- Pain with prolonged sitting, climbing stairs, bending, squats
- Numbness, pins and needles or burning sensation in buttock, back of thigh or calf
A Biokineticist will help you diagnose the injury. If necessary, may refer you to exclude other possible cause of symptoms. This may be due to poor biomechanics (movement patterns) especially relevant to those engaged in long distance sports such as running, poor posture in addition to weakness of the hip muscles (especially the buttock muscle). Even weakness of the muscles supporting the ankles might be a contributing factor. Thereafter, they will develop an appropriate plan to address the cause of your injury. Addressing these weaknesses is vital in treatment of piriformis syndrome to eradicate the cause of your injury, eliminate pain and complete the rehabilitation process.