Understanding Piriformis Syndrome
Piriformis syndrome is a specific type of neuromuscular ailment (related to the muscles and nerves) that happens when the piriformis muscle condenses around the sciatic nerve.
The piriformis muscle looks like a band of flat muscle in the buttocks (close to the hip), and it’s the specific muscle that works to balance movements from the lower body and to help the thigh to rotate outwards. To look at it another way, these are the parts of the body that help shift weight, walk, and keep balanced when moving. The sciatic nerve, on the other hand, is the long and thick nerve that winds throughout the piriformis muscle and to the nerves that stretch all the way into the feet. When this nerve is squished, the results are piriformis syndrome.
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As with many neuromuscular disorders and injuries, you will experience pain. The severity of the disorder will determine how much pain you might feel. Additionally, you might also experience potential tingling and numbness that radiates through the afflicted area, and these symptoms may radiate down the sciatic nerve. These symptoms can worsen if you run, sit constantly, or even climb stairs.
If you have had trauma in the area, if you perform exercises that continuously make use of that area (such as sports that involve running), or if you find yourself sitting for a long time, you might find this pain.
Neuromuscular issues such as piriformis syndrome can be serious if left untreated. It’s in your best interest to contact a medical professional if you have any pain in your back that lasts for longer than a few days. A medical professional will give you a physical exam and determine the cause. Additional scans might be required for a complete diagnosis.
Causes and Risk Factors
There aren’t specific causes that lead to piriformis syndrome, especially since many of the symptoms can mimic sciatic nerve pain and other neuromuscular diseases. However, you are more at risk of this syndrome if you constantly perform actions that use your piriformis muscle.
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Treatment and Prevention
With piriformis syndrome, one of the best things for you to do – if possible – is to practice prevention. Treatment is possible, but prevention is key. If you realize that you are feeling pain from performing certain activities, then it’s best to try and avoid those specific positions. It’s also in your best interest to warm up before strenuous exercise and to stretch before and after.
However, if you are already suffering from piriformis syndrome, then you can try heating and icing the areas, as well as resting from strenuous activities that might aggravate the pain, and over-the-counter medications can also help. Additionally, your orthopedic doctor may prescribe physical therapy, pain management, or even surgery if the condition is particularly severe.
With neuromuscular diseases, it’s always best to consult with an orthopedist as soon as you can. Our expert orthopedic surgeons are here to help! We can get you the help you need to find that pain relief. Contact us today to set up your consultation in either Hoboken or Jersey City - we have same-day appointments available!
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