Q:

What is piriformis muscle syndrome?

A:

Quick Answer

Piriformis syndrome occurs when the piriformis muscle becomes irritated. The resulting pain could be from muscle spasms or irritation of the sciatic nerve. The syndrome is similar to sciatica, which also causes pain, numbness and tingling that radiates down the back of the leg. Typically symptoms worsen after prolonged sitting, walking or running and are alleviated by lying on the back, according to Spine-Health.

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Full Answer

The piriformis muscle is located in the buttocks at the top of the hip joint. It plays a key role in stabilizing the hip joint and helping to rotate and lift the thigh away from the body, enabling humans to walk and maintain balance. There is no diagnostic test for piriformis syndrome, although a history of long-distance running or prolonged sitting has been associated with it. X-rays or MRI tests may be useful to rule out other causes of pain, such as nerve compression from a herniated disk, according to WebMD.

Conservative treatments include rest, icing the affected area and heat. A physical therapist can prescribe stretching exercises to relieve sciatic nerve compression. Other options include anti-inflammatory drugs, muscle relaxants or injections with corticosteroids, anesthetics or Botox to relieve muscle tightness. Surgery is considered a last resort.

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Related Questions

  • Q:

    How is Piriformis Syndrome related to sciatica?

    A:

    Piriformis syndrome is related to sciatica because it involves muscles that irritate the sciatic nerve, according to Spine-Health.com. The piriformis muscle is found in the buttocks, and when it compresses the sciatic nerve, it causes pain in the buttocks that shoots down the back of the thigh to the foot.

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  • Q:

    How do you stretch the piriformis muscle?

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    Several exercises stretch the piriformis muscle, and an introductory stretch involves sitting cross-legged on the floor for several minutes each day. As piriformis flexibility grows, other stretches that involve a greater degree of movement continue to help the muscle strengthen and become more flexible, according to About.com.

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  • Q:

    How do you strengthen the piriformis muscle?

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    Performing exercises such as resistance band abduction, the side lying clam and hip extension all strengthen the piriformis muscle and other hip abductor muscles. This keeps piriformis syndrome from recurring and improves the results of exercise significantly, notes Sportsinjuryclinic.net.

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  • Q:

    How do you cure severe back and buttocks pain without surgery?

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    Physical therapy focusing on stretching the piriformis muscle can effectively reduce nerve pain from the back to the legs, reports Spine-health. If the pain is caused by a herniated disk, exercises focused on back bends and strengthening the lower back can treat sciatic nerve pain and prevent future injury.

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