Piriformis syndrome is characterized by pain caused when the piriformis muscle impinges the sciatic nerve. Pain may be felt in the affected buttock, thigh and leg because the pain travels within the distribution of the sciatic nerve. The sciatic nerve branches out from the lumbar (low back) spine and passes through the piriformis muscle.
The piriformis muscle runs from the sacrum to the greater trochanter, which is the outer part of your upper femur (thigh). The sciatic nerve runs either through or under the piriformis muscle as it leaves the spine. Spasm or irritation of the piriformis muscle can impinge the sciatic nerve and cause pain.
Piriformis syndrome affects many different people such as athletes, patients who have undergone surgery in or near the area of the piriformis muscle. Sometimes the cause is not known.
Most cases of piriformis syndrome may be treated without surgery. Treatment for piriformis syndrome focuses on trying to restore the normal pathway of the sciatic nerve through or around the muscle. Typical treatments for piriformis syndrome include:
It may take months of intensive therapy to restore normal function to your pelvis. For only the most resistant cases, patients may benefit from surgery. Surgery may be considered but usually only as a last resort. The piriformis tendon may be cut where it attaches on the greater trochanter (the bump on the side of your hip). Another approach is to cut through the piriformis muscle to take pressure off the sciatic nerve.
If you have been diagnosed with piriformis syndrome, or are interested in learning about treatment options to manage your pain, please contact our pain management experts at The Spine and Pain Institute of New York in Manhattan, New York and Staten Island, New York. We would be happy to make an appointment for a consultation and provide additional information about other treatment options.