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The piriformis is a powerful, flat, pear-shaped muscle that goes unnoticed because it’s located beneath the gluteal musculature. However, when the piriformis muscle causes compression or contraction on certain areas of the sciatic nerve, it can cause pain in the buttocks and/or lower back that can radiate down the leg to the foot.
The two piriformis muscles sit behind the hip sockets, extending from the upper, outer corner of each femur (thighbone) to the sacrum. These two pear-shaped muscles are joined by a band of connective tissue, or fascia, that stretches across the sacrum just above the tailbone.
The primary function of the piriformis is the external rotation of the hip, which is why swinging a golf club can cause piriformis syndrome. is The piriformis muscle is part of the hip rotator cuff, which are small, deep muscles that rotate the leg outward at the hip.
The piriformis muscle also helps with abduction or the act of moving your leg away from the midline of your body. It also plays a role when you extend and lift your leg behind you. The piriformis laterally rotates the femur with hip extension and abducts the femur with hip flexion.
Piriformis syndrome effects women more than men in a ratio of 6:1.
What are the symptoms of piriformis syndrome?
The symptoms of piriformis syndrome vary from person to person but can include:
- Chronic pain in the buttocks
- Pain when rising from a seated position
- Pain increased with moving the leg off to the side or moving the leg back and forth
- Inability to sit without pain
- pain, sometimes severe when climbing stairs, walking, running, and golfing
- tingling and numbness,
- pain that can go from the back to the foot,
Piriformis syndrome is pain that may be difficult to pinpoint. Often located in the hip, buttocks and distal part of the leg, it can produce a pain that is very similar to sciatic pain.
In 20% of the population the piriformis splits and the sciatic nerve runs through that split. Those people are much more susceptible to piriformis syndrome due to their unique anatomical structure.
What causes piriformis syndrome?
The cause of piriformis syndrome is varied.
You can develop piriformis syndrome from everyday activities, such as sitting for long periods of time, climbing stairs, walking, or running. You can also develop it after a traumatic event, such as a car accident or a fall.
High activity level sports such as skiing, tennis or long-distance bikers can cause piriformis syndrome. A golfers swing can also cause piriformis syndrome.
What are the treatments for piriformis syndrome?
This is a muscle that contributes to many leg and hip movements. When this muscle is aggravated, it doesn’t suffer in silence. Rest is an important part of the treatment process. If you continue performing aggravating activities during treatment, then expect it to take longer to heal. Treatments for piriformis syndrome include:
- Chiropractic adjustments
- Physical therapy
- Myofascial release techniques (such as cupping)
- At home exercises
- TENS unit
If you are experiencing pain in your buttocks, pain when rising from a seated position or any of the other symptoms of piriformis syndrome, you should schedule an appointment with your local chiropractor. If you live or work in the Stuart, Florida area, contact Advanced Wellness Solutions at 855-509-5400 to schedule your appointment today.