The Piriformis muscle is a pear-shaped muscle in the buttocks that reaches from the base of the spine to the top of the thigh. Just beneath this muscle is the sciatic nerve, which means tightness in this specific muscle can compress the sciatic nerve causing pain (which can be mild to extremely severe) as well as numbness or tingling anywhere along the path of the sciatic nerve beginning at the point of the Piriformis muscle.
This means the pain/numbness can travel from the pelvis down to the 1st toe.
What Can Cause Piriformis Syndrome?
- Overusing the muscle can cause swelling or injure the muscle.
- Sitting for long periods of time.
- Running, walking, or doing other repetitive motion activities.
- Playing sports.
- Climbing stairs.
- Lifting heavy objects.
- Trauma such as car accidents, falls, sudden twists, wounds that penetrate.
Symptoms Of Piriformis Syndrome
The most common symptom of piriformis syndrome is sciatica pain. Sciatica is the term used to describe pain, tingling, or numbness that starts in your buttocks and runs down the back of your leg.
Sciatica may begin as an intense, burning pain deep in the buttocks. The pain will get worse during activities that cause the piriformis muscle to press against the sciatic nerve.
Treatments For Piriformis Syndrome
- Stretching and strengthening exercises. Stretching to lengthen the muscle is believed to be the best way to decrease the compression
- Rest, ice, and/or heat. These may each help alleviate symptoms.
- Chiropractic Care. Adjustments are used to help relieve pain and restore proper alignment to the joints. Since the injury to the joints in the lumbar spine, pelvis or lower extremities may have been the cause of the Piriformis Syndrome, correction of the cause would be the solution.
- Physical Therapy. PT can use deep massage to increase circulation, incorporating specific range of motion exercises, and correct the body mechanics and postural stabilization.
- Anti-Inflammatory Medication: These can be used to decrease inflammation around the tendon.
- Massage Therapy. Massage will help the piriformis muscle relax, which in turn can prevent spasming and reduce the pressure on your sciatic nerve. Massage also activates the release of pain-fighting endorphins, these endorphins reduce your experience of pain from piriformis syndrome.
- Electrotherapy. Applying electrical stimulation to your buttock region can both reduce muscle spasms related to piriformis syndrome as well as decrease your experience of pain.
- Acupuncture. Acupuncture or Dry Needling can help Piriformis Symptoms by reducing muscle tightness around the buttock. Acupuncture also helps to balance the whole body which will help to prevent future injuries.
The Piriformis Takeaway
Your piriformis muscle runs from your lower spine to the upper part of your thigh bone. Piriformis syndrome occurs when this muscle places pressure on your sciatic nerve This can cause pain and numbness in your lower body.
While being one of the most central, connected muscles in our body, it often receives limited attention leading to pain, numbness, and tingling in the pelvis down to the foot. Caring for this muscle and correcting the original imbalance can alleviate pain and restore your function!
If you are interested in learning more about health and wellness, I encourage you to schedule an appointment with one of our trusted practitioners at SHIN Wellness. We offer many holistic treatments such as Decompression Therapy, Acupuncture, Chiropractic, Neurofeedback, Psychology, Reiki, Nutrition, Massage, Corrective Exercises, and Rolfing. If you need some help figuring out what service is right for you, try our personalized consultation. Our Wellness Center and Chiropractor office in Miami Florida specializes in restoring your health!