Sciatic nerve pain affects a large number of people, and while many underlying conditions can cause this pain, piriformis syndrome is a prevalent contributor. While this syndrome is somewhat easy to fix, it can wreak havoc on a patient’s quality of life, which is why today we will be discussing how to achieve piriformis syndrome relief.
What is Piriformis Syndrome?
Before we dive into attaining piriformis syndrome relief, let’s lay out the basics of the syndrome. To begin, we should explain just what the piriformis is.
The piriformis is a small muscle that originates at the base of the spine and inserts at the top of the femur, with one on each side of the body. It lies deep beneath the gluteus maximus and assists in external rotation of the leg (turning your feet outwards is an example of this function).
The piriformis runs directly over the sciatic nerve. Running down the back of the legs, this nerve is the source of the pain associated with piriformis syndrome. When the piriformis becomes overly tight, it presses down upon the sciatic nerve, leading to the electric-like pain and tingling that is so characteristic of the syndrome.
Symptoms and Causes
Piriformis syndrome can manifest an array of unpleasant symptoms. Pain is quite common, and can occur in numerous areas, including:
- The buttocks
- The hamstrings
- The thigh
- The calf
Pain often worsens with prolonged periods of sitting, as this can further tighten and irritate the piriformis. Tightness of the muscle may also lead to a reduction in range of motion at the hip and sacroiliac joint.
While the symptoms of piriformis syndrome are often similar between patients, the path to piriformis syndrome relief can vary. Causes can differ widely between cases, as the muscle can become irritated in many ways. Spasms and overuse can cause the muscle to become tense, but the muscle may also inflame due to injury.
Both above-mentioned scenarios will irritate the sciatic nerve, but they should not be treated in the exact same fashion.
Finding Piriformis Syndrome Relief
Treatment for piriformis syndrome will depend upon the severity and cause of the specific case. For the more minor cases, home exercises and lifestyle adjustments may be enough to achieve full piriformis syndrome relief. Stretches, such as the pigeon pose, can help to ease the tension in the muscle and relieve pressure on the nerve beneath.
In addition, working the muscles of the inner thigh can help the patient achieve a better length-tension relationship in the piriformis, which will also aid in relieving the pressure on the sciatic nerve. Intentional exercise is a great start, but simply spending less time sitting can also help the muscle relax.
In cases where the piriformis has been injured, relief may require a different treatment plan. Resting the muscle and allowing it to heal will be crucial in these scenarios. Ice or heat may also help speed up the recovery process.
Pain medication may help relieve the pain temporarily, regardless of the underlying cause of the nerve pressure. That said, it won’t solve the underlying problems, and should only be used under the supervision of a medical professional.
In extreme cases, surgery may be required to achieve piriformis syndrome relief. This should be viewed as a last resort, and most patients will not require such extreme measures.
If you are suffering from sciatic nerve pain and think it may be due to piriformis syndrome, reach out and schedule an appointment with us! Our team of medical professionals have the knowledge and expertise to help you get back to pain-free living.