The piriformis muscle is a small muscle located in the buttocks. It connects the lower spine to each femur bone and assists with hip and leg movement.
Piriformis syndrome is a condition in which the piriformis muscle spasms, causing pain. Piriformis syndrome can also cause the piriformis muscle to compress the sciatic nerve (the largest nerve in the body), resulting in pain, tingling, and/or numbness.
What causes piriformis syndrome?
The exact cause of piriformis syndrome is not known, but there are a couple of common theories:
- Muscle spasm in the piriformis muscle, usually caused by irritation to the muscle itself or irritation of nearby tissue such as the sacroiliac joint.
- Tightness or swelling of the piriformis muscle, typically as a response to an injury or spasm
These same issues can also sometimes affect the nearby sciatic nerve, causing sciatica-like symptoms.
What are symptoms of piriformis syndrome?
Common symptoms of piriformis syndrome include:
- Pain, tingling, or numbness in the buttock
- Pain down the back of the thigh, calf and foot
- Pain when walking up stairs
- Increased pain after prolonged sitting
- Reduced range of motion of the hip joint
These symptoms often get more severe after extended periods of sitting, walking or running, but may feel better when lying on your back.
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