What Is Piriformis Syndrome?

Have you been treated for sciatica but just can’t find any relief? You may actually be suffering from piriformis syndrome rather than sciatica. When you experience a piriformis muscle spasm, the piriformis muscle may irritate or compress the sciatic nerve, resulting in butt muscle pain. Because of this, the pain is located around the sciatic nerve and may be misdiagnosed. You may ask yourself, what is this? What is piriformis syndrome?

Determining whether you have sciatica or piriformis syndrome is important in achieving a full recovery. If you feel what could be piriformis pain, read on to learn more about this condition.

The Function of the Piriformis Muscle

piriformis muscle

The piriformis muscle is a small muscle that is flat and band-like. It is located near the top of the hip joint in the buttocks. It is deep behind the gluteus maximus and very close to the sciatic nerve. In fact, the sciatic nerve may run past or even through the piriformis muscle.

The piriformis may not be part of the spine but connects the bottom of the spine to the top of the thighbones. So the piriformis help rotate the hips and turns the leg and foot out.

This may all sound simple, but it is critical to everyday movements, including walking. By slightly turning out your femurs, you can correctly shift body weight from one leg to the other. Without the piriformis, you wouldn’t be able to comfortably lift your leg to get into a car or walk without falling.

The piriformis muscle eventually splits into smaller nerves that run all the way down to your feet. As a result, your piriformis muscle is contributing to every movement in your legs and feet. Every step you take is thanks to your butt muscle. So when your piriformis muscle has suffered damage and isn’t functioning properly, this can leave you unable to move without discomfort or pain.

Piriformis Syndrome Effects

While piriformis syndrome may not be as common as other disorders, it also often goes overlooked. This is because it is so similar in side effects to other syndromes and injuries. Unfortunately, that means the statistics are skewed due to the condition going underdiagnosed and untreated.

This particular syndrome can’t be identified through a single test. So doctors often arrive at the syndrome’s diagnosis by ruling out other conditions based on your symptoms and exams. Because of this, you must be very attuned to your body to look for the symptoms and share this information with your doctor.

These are the effects you should look out for:

  • Piriformis muscle spasms
  • Pain in butt cheek (typically one, but can be both)
  • Numbness with butt pain
  • Tingling butt muscle pain, like pins and needles
  • Low back pain
  • Butt pain that extends to the feet
  • Increased butt muscle pain after sitting for long periods
  • Reduced range of motion
  • Butt pain from walking up inclines or stairs

In general, if you are experiencing butt muscle pain that interferes with your daily life, you should see a doctor and rule out the possibility of piriformis syndromes.

What Causes Piriformis Pain?

The estimated number of people affected by this syndrome varies between 5%-36%. But what is piriformis syndrome’s cause, and can it be prevented?

While the exact piriformis syndrome causes are still up for debate among professionals, there are several believed piriformis syndrome causes.

  • Overuse or sprain of the muscle
  • Trauma to the muscle
  • Hematoma

There are ways to prevent piriformis pain. To avoid any pain in a butt cheek and butt muscle spasm that accompanies an injury, take care of your body. This means stretching properly before and after exercise, exercising regularly and appropriately, and use flexibility training.

Ways to Treat Piriformis Syndrome

If you are experiencing a severe piriformis muscle spasm regularly, then no doubt you are looking for a way to a full recovery from piriformis syndrome. Now that you understand what the piriformis muscle’s function is, the effect a damaged piriformis can have, and ways to prevent it, it’s time to seek treatment.

Get Plenty of Rest

Rest is one of the best treatments for butt muscle pain for your piriformis. This can be done by avoiding any butt muscle spasm triggering activities. This could include prolonged sitting, intense exercise, or excessive walking while you work to heal your butt pain.

Hot and Cold Treatment

ice treatment

You may also turn to ice or heating treatment for treating your butt muscle spasms. Applying ice or heat may relieve the symptoms, allow your body to relax, and make way for a full recovery for your piriformis.

See a Doctor

Going to a doctor for your butt pain will allow you to learn the best exercises and stretches for your butt muscle pain. This will relieve the pressure on your sciatic nerve, which means less pain in the butt cheek for you. This will treat your butt muscle spasms, along with anti-inflammatory medications.

If these methods do not work, you may need to turn to treatments like electrotherapy, such as Iontophoresis or numbing injections from botox.

What if These Treatments Don’t Work?

If none of these treatments work for you, you may need to turn to surgery for help with butt muscle pain recovery. However, studies show that non-invasive, conservative treatments often do well to aid piriformis syndrome patients, even more than for sciatica patients. So surgery is often not needed for a full recovery.

If you are concerned about your severe butt muscle pain, sciatica treatment hasn’t helped, or you want to prevent piriformis muscle spasms before they worsen, talk to a doctor about piriformis syndrome treatment. This underdiagnosed syndrome may just be exactly what you are suffering from, and you’ll need personalized treatment targeted to your specific symptoms if you need pain relief.

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