Piriformis syndrome is a painful and sometimes debilitating condition. It’s a problem with the piriformis muscle, which is a small muscle located within the buttock. The muscle extends from the base of the spine to the top of the thigh. Without treatment, it’s possible for some patients to develop permanent nerve damage. Most patients can recover well with conservative treatments, including physical therapy.
Piriformis syndrome is an acute condition that causes pain in the buttock and reduced range of motion of the hip joint. As the piriformis muscle presses on the sciatic nerve, patients can experience sciatic pain. This can cause intense, burning pain in the buttock, and down the back of the thigh and calf. Patients may also suffer from:
- Lower back pain
- Pain that worsens after sitting for too long
- Pain while climbing stairs or walking up inclines
- Weakness, numbness, and tingling down the leg
Doctors aren’t quite sure exactly why some patients develop piriformis syndrome. It’s thought that some patients may develop it because the muscle, hip, or sacroiliac joint becomes irritated. The irritation can cause a major muscle spasm, which may cause this condition. Other possible causes may include:
- Contraction of the muscle after an injury
- Muscle swelling
- Bleeding near the muscle
Patients should temporarily cease doing the physical activity that causes pain. A physical therapist can lead patients through a series of gentle stretches and exercises intended to rehabilitate the muscle. Over-the-counter pain relievers and nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) may be appropriate for sciatica treatment. Some patients find significant relief with ice packs, while others think it feels better to alternate ice and heat therapy. If these treatments aren’t enough to relieve pain, patients may benefit from a corticosteroid injection. This injection can support progress in physical therapy, as it will relieve pain and reduce swelling.
Here at The Houston Spine & Rehabilitation Centers, it’s our mission to help our patients live a pain-free, productive life. Book an appointment with a physical therapist in The Woodlands, and we’ll develop a personalized treatment plan to deal with your nerve and muscle pain. Call us at (281) 362-0006.