Piriformis syndrome is a condition that causes the compression of the sciatic nerve due to a tightened, spastic or inflamed piriformis muscle, which is located near the buttock and crosses over the sciatic nerve.
While sciatica — the pain and symptoms associated with sciatic nerve compression — can be caused by many issues, including spine conditions like a herniated disc, piriformis syndrome is a result of compression by the piriformis muscle, which is a flat muscle in the hip that runs between the base of the spine and the thigh bone. When the piriformis muscle tightens, it can place pressure on the nearby sciatic nerve and cause symptoms of pain and numbness in the buttock and leg.
Causes of piriformis syndrome and sciatica
Piriformis syndrome is caused by muscular injury of two types: overload and biomechanical inefficiencies.
Overload refers to overexertion from sports, lifting or other rigorous activities, while biomechanical inefficiencies refer to continued misuse of the piriformis muscle, such as prolonged bad posture or incorrect form while jogging.
Symptoms of piriformis syndrome and sciatica
Piriformis syndrome can compress the sciatic nerve and cause the same symptoms as sciatica caused by a degenerative spine condition. These symptoms may include:
- Discomfort surrounding the hip bone or felt deep in the buttocks
- Pain that radiates through the buttocks and down the back of the leg
- Numbness or loss of feeling in the thighs, knees, calves, ankles or feet
- Tingling or a pins-and-needles sensation in the lower half of the body
If you are experiencing these symptoms, consult your physician to determine your diagnosis and a treatment option to relieve your pain.
Treatment options for piriformis sciatica
Sciatica that results from a muscle strain should heal itself in a matter of weeks. Consult your doctor about stretches, yoga and physical therapy treatments that will help stretch your piriformis muscle and relieve your pain.
If you have been diagnosed with a spine condition as the underlying cause of your sciatica and are considering surgery after exhausting conservative treatments, contact Laser Spine Institute. Our minimally invasive spine surgery is a safer and effective alternative to traditional open back procedures.^
To learn more and find out if you are a potential candidate for one of our outpatient procedures, ask for your no-cost MRI review today.*