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Last updated: Oct 6, 2021

Piriformis Syndrome

If you have a job that requires you to sit for eight hours or more, you’re at a high risk of developing piriformis syndrome. Piriformis syndrome is a condition that affects the large muscle on both sides of your buttocks. Persistent pressure on the piriformis muscle stresses it out and leads to pain in your rear end that radiates down to your legs and up to the lower back. While you may not switch jobs, you can learn ways to prevent piriformis syndrome and reduce your risk. When you seek treatment from the pain management experts at Redefine Healthcare, your recovery includes instructions for managing this condition. Schedule a consultation today.

Piriformis SyndromePiriformis syndrome develops when the piriformis muscle, located in your buttocks near the hip joint, compresses the sciatic nerve that runs from your lower back down your leg. This compression occurs due to spasming or contracting the piriformis muscles or from injury and swelling.

Piriformis syndrome develops gradually, usually because of repetitive movements like sitting for long periods or working a job that continuously requires twisting, bending, or lifting heavy loads.

Bone spurs and herniated discs in your spine can lead to the condition, as well as obesity and diabetes. It can also develop after a traumatic event, such as a car accident or sports injury.

Piriformis Syndrome Symptoms

Piriformis syndrome can be extremely painful and interfere with your daily activities if you don’t properly treat it. Symptoms of the condition include:

  • Difficulty sitting
  • Pain in the sciatic nerve
  • Tingling or numbness in the buttocks
  • Tenderness when sitting, usually on one side of the buttocks
  • Low back pain
  • Pain that radiates from the buttocks and down the back of your leg

Because the symptoms are similar to other conditions like a pinched nerve or myofascial pain syndrome, you need to rely on the expertise of your pain management doctors at Redefine Healthcare. Get an accurate diagnosis so that you receive the most appropriate treatment for piriformis syndrome. If you’re experiencing any of these symptoms or any level of back pain, visit one of the four Redefine Healthcare locations in northern New Jersey.

Piriformis Syndrome Treatment

To diagnose and treat piriformis syndrome, your pain management specialist performs a physical examination. This exam may include various movements and stretches to help the doctor pinpoint the location of discomfort. Be clear when describing your sensations.

Treatment options for piriformis syndrome usually begin with the least invasive procedure, such as:

  • Ice and heat. Ice therapy reduces inflammation, while heat improves circulation to the injured muscles, speeding your recovery.
  • Physical therapy. Stretches and targeted exercises help loosen tight muscles and improve mobility.
  • Avoiding painful movements. Until physical therapy begins to help, avoid actions that cause pain, such as sitting or riding a bike. You may need to restrict certain activities at work, as well. If you must sit for long periods, take breaks, stretch and walk around.
  • Medications. Over-the-counter anti-inflammatory drugs like ibuprofen can relieve pain and reduce swelling of the piriformis muscle. If pain is severe, your doctor may prescribe the short-term use of narcotics.
  • Massage. Myofascial trigger point massage helps relieve muscle tension and reduce pain by relaxing your piriformis muscle. Physical therapists trained in pain management at Redefine Healthcare have great expertise in trigger point massage.

Recovering from Piriformis Syndrome

Depending on the severity of the injury, you may need up to six weeks for the piriformis muscle to heal completely. Most people feel better or see a reduction in pain after one to three weeks of therapy, but it’s essential to keep up with the process to reduce the risk of relapse. If specialists teach you physical therapy exercises, keep doing them at home.

The aim of your doctor is always to reduce pain while getting to the root of the pain. But preventing future occurrences of the condition helps keep you healthy and active.

Ways to prevent future piriformis muscle injury include:

  • Warm up properly before exercising. Keeping your muscles loose with light aerobic activity and stretching before strenuous activity helps prevent straining the piriformis muscle again.
  • Maintain good posture. Focus on holding your spine straight when sitting or exercising, which keeps unnecessary weight off your piriformis muscle. Posture training plays an integral role in your physical therapy plan.
  • Avoid sitting for long periods. Take breaks to stand up and stretch.
  • Exercise regularly. Routines that strengthen your core and lower back support your piriformis muscle. When not painful, lunges and squats work the muscles in your buttocks, helping to prevent further painful episodes.

Pain management allows you to live your best life. If you’re suffering from piriformis muscle pain, contact your doctor at Redefine Healthcare to schedule a consultation and get therapy underway.

This page was published on Oct 9, 2019, modified on Oct 6, 2021 by Dr. Freeman (Pain Management Specialist) of Redefine Healthcare
Dr. Eric D. Freeman, a highly regarded pain specialist

Dr. Eric D. Freeman, a highly regarded pain specialist in New Jersey, is board-certified and fellowship-trained in Interventional Spine and Pain Management and Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation. He is an expert in minimally invasive spinal procedures and non-surgical orthopedic care.

Dr. Freeman is a member of the American Academy of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation and the Interventional Pain Practice Society. In addition, he serves as the Immediate Past President of the New Jersey Society of Interventional Pain Physicians. Dr. Freeman is well-known in the field of pain management as a leading pain management doctor, having been named one of "America's Top Physicians."

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