If you’ve ever experienced hip pain, or pain and numbness down the back of your buttocks and legs, you might be forgiven for thinking it’s sciatica. But while it might be in the same region, piriformis syndrome is actually slightly different.
The piriformis muscle is responsible for hip rotation and functions to turn the leg outwards. It’s fundamental to our ability to walk and maintain our balance. Tightness in this muscle can restrict movement, which is why it’s important that we look after it.
Piriformis syndrome is when the piriformis muscle in the buttock spasms and causes pain. As the sciatic nerve may pass through or under this muscle, a spasm may compress the nerve and lead to inflammation and irritation, which can cause pain, numbness and tingling along the back of the leg and into the foot.
Piriformis syndrome is also often referred to as wallet sciatica and pseudo sciatica because patients often present with pain and tingling or numbness in the region of the buttock. The pain may be triggered by sitting with a wallet in your back pocket, walking up stairs or even sitting for too long a period of time.
Symptoms often become worse after prolonged sitting, walking or running and may improve after lying down to rest.
Piriformis syndrome is often diagnosed through a process of elimination, and while there is no simple diagnostic test, your chiropractor will use your medical history and a series of physical tests to reach a conclusion.
For instance, a sedentary lifestyle, an existing injury or nerve damage, may be an underlying cause, which your chiropractor can pick up on. While a physical exam will allow your chiropractor to see if movement of the hip and legs causes increased pain.
In worst-case scenarios, your chiropractor may refer you to a specialist for more advanced imaging, such as an MRI, to exclude other conditions.
Regular chiropractic treatment can offer relief but your chiropractor can also advise on the best exercises and at-home methods you can use to help alleviate your pain, including:
If you are battling with piriformis syndrome, chat to your CASA-registered chiropractor for correct diagnosis and advice on your treatment options. You can find your closest CASA-registered chiropractor here.
This blog post is not intended to replace professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition.
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