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What does piriformis syndrome refer to?

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Piriformis syndrome refers to a condition in which the piriformis muscle compresses the sciatic nerve, according to WebMD. When this nerve is compressed, it can result in pain, tingling or numbness of the buttocks that extends along the length of the leg and into the feet. As the piriformis muscle is responsible for so many movements of the lower body due to its location near the hip joint, activities as disparate as sitting or running can compress the sciatic nerve.

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Diagnosis of piriformis syndrome is often nebulous due to the other conditions that also cause sciatic nerve pain, or sciatica, explains WebMD. Physical exams that result in pain from direct manipulation of the piriformis muscle and patient symptom reports are the most common keys to diagnosis. Imaging tests, such as MRIs, may be necessary to exclude herniated discs or other similar causes.

Treatment for piriformis syndrome begins with avoiding positions or physical activities that aggravate the muscle's compression of the sciatic nerve, reports WebMD. While rest, heat and ice can treat symptoms, physical therapy, such as specific exercises and stretches, can also be effective. Corticosteroid or anesthetic injections, muscle relaxants and anti-inflammatory medications are other options. Botox and electric current therapies are less common alternatives. Surgery is a possible remedy when all other methods fail.

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