Many people will experience low back and hip pain during the course of their lives, often with accompanying radiating pain along the course of the sciatic nerve. In many cases, these symptoms are caused by piriformis syndrome. This is a condition that is the result of a significant contraction or spasm of the piriformis muscle, a deep muscle in the buttocks region that is responsible for stabilizing the hip joint and lifting and rotating the thigh away from the body. It is involved in nearly every motion of the hips and thighs, and therefore athletes (particularly runners) are especially susceptible to this particular condition. The sciatic nerve runs alongside (and sometimes through) the piriformis muscle, and spasm of the muscle can put pressure on the nerve, causing radiating pain/numbness/tingling into the leg.
Piriformis syndrome typically starts with aching pain in the buttocks, but will usually progress quickly to include numbness and tingling in the buttocks and leg. The symptoms can stay contained to the upper leg, or radiate all the way to the foot, depending on the degree of pressure on the nerve. Symptoms will often become worse with prolonged sitting or walking/running, and be eased by lying down.
Unfortunately, there is no definitive test for piriformis syndrome, but a diagnosis can be obtained through a combination of patient history review, imaging (if necessary), and orthopedic/neurological testing. Because the symptoms are relatively common, the diagnosis method is typically geared towards ruling out other potential causes of sciatica, including but not limited to lumbar disc herniation and sacroiliac joint dysfunction.
Treatment of piriformis syndrome is focused on reducing the mechanical restriction or irritation of the piriformis muscle as well as reducing any secondary inflammation in the area. This is achieved with a combination of chiropractic adjustment of the hip/leg, therapeutic ultrasound, cold laser therapy, injection therapy, and rehabilitative exercises/stretches to allow the pressure to come off of the sciatic nerve and full function to be restored. At Lowcountry Wellness Center, our team of doctors will provide a complete review of your medical history as well as a comprehensive physical assessment in order to give you a treatment plan customized to your specific condition, and give you the best chance for rapid and complete recovery. Call us at (843) 793-1353 to schedule your consultation appointment today!