Signs of Piriformis Syndrome

Located deep in the buttock, your piriformis muscle runs from your lower spine to the top of your thigh bone. Along with five other muscles, the piriformis plays a role in external hip rotation. In piriformis syndrome, this muscle presses on the sciatic nerve causing pain and numbness in the lower body.

Board-certified orthopedic surgeon Thomas Jones II, MD, and our team at The Spine Institute of Texas treat a full range of conditions that affect the spine. If you’re dealing with neck or back pain, visiting a specialist like Dr. Jones II is a good place to start. An evaluation using the latest diagnostic techniques can bring you the answers, treatment, and relief you need to get back to life.

What is piriformis syndrome?

Piriformis syndrome causes sciatica-like low back pain, along with abnormal sensations in the lower body, such as numbness and tingling. The sciatic nerve starts in the lower back and runs through the buttock area and down the back of the leg to the heel and sole of your foot.

Prolonged sitting, intense physical activities such as long-distance running, and injury to the buttock muscle can cause piriformis syndrome. Some people develop the condition from everyday activities such as climbing stairs or walking.

Symptoms of piriformis syndrome 

Tenderness, pain, and numbness in the buttocks that may extend down the back of the leg are the most common symptoms. Patients with piriformis syndrome commonly experience:

Piriformis syndrome pain tends to worsen after sitting for long periods or with physical activity such as walking. Most patients with piriformis syndrome feel better after lying down on their backs.

Diagnosing and treating piriformis syndrome

Getting to the root of your back and leg pain requires the knowledge and training of a specialist. Patients who visit The Spine Institute of Southeast Texas receive a thorough evaluation, including a physical exam and imaging tests. Signs of nerve inflammation when the hip is flexed or externally rotated help confirm a piriformis syndrome diagnosis.

Relieving compression on the sciatic nerve is key to achieving relief from piriformis syndrome symptoms. Treatment often begins with physical therapy. A physical therapist works with you to perform stretching exercises that ease the tension in the piriformis muscle. In piriformis syndrome, the piriformis muscle is often contracted and shortened.

Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs or steroids can ease pain and inflammation. Patients who continue to experience painful symptoms may be referred for surgery. Dr. Jones II specializes in minimally invasive spine surgery.

Surgery for piriformis syndrome involves relieving the pressure on the sciatic nerve. Restoring space for the sciatic nerve improves blood supply to the nerve so that it has a chance to regenerate.

When to call a doctor

If you’re having back pain, early intervention reduces the risk of complications and restores function. 

Talk to Dr. Jones if you experience: 

There’s no need to suffer with the pain of piriformis syndrome when treatment can bring you significant relief. 

To ensure that orthopedic patients have access to the care they need, The Spine Institute of Southeast Texas offers telemedicine services for new and existing patients to continue accessing our top-quality spine and joint care. You can schedule your televisit by clicking here, or just call one of our offices in Pearland, Houston, or Lake Jackson, Texas.

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