If you have regular pain in your hips, buttocks and legs, you may be suffering from piriformis syndrome. This syndrome generally appears from the age of 40 or 50 onwards, and it is more common in women than in men. It most often results in micro-traumas to the buttocks area, leading to inflammation of the soft tissue and compression of the nerve. So what are the symptoms and the natural treatments?
What is piriformis syndrome?
Piriformis syndrome is a neuromuscular condition characterised by pain in the hips and buttocks. This pain is caused by peripheral neuritis of the sciatic nerve, which itself is due to an abnormality in the piriformis muscle.
Piriformis syndrome is often missed in clinics because its symptoms can easily be mistaken for lumbar radiculopathy or sacroiliac (SI) joint dysfunction, sacroiliitis, sciatica or trochanteric bursitis.
People affected by low back pain should be particularly vigilant, because at least 6% of patients diagnosed with low back pain go on to discover that they are in fact suffering from piriformis syndrome.
What are the risks of delayed diagnosis or not getting a diagnosis?
A delay in the diagnosis of piriformis syndrome can lead to:
- pathologies of the sciatic nerve
- chronic somatic dysfunction
- pain, paresthesia (a burning or prickling sensation), hyperesthesia (excessive sensitivity, especially of the skin) and muscle weakness
If your doctor recognises the signs and symptoms of piriformis syndrome, appropriate treatment in a timely manner should be possible.
Piriformis syndrome: the symptoms
The following are the most common symptoms in patients affected by piriformis syndrome:
- a build up of pain after having remained seated for more than 15 to 20 minutes
- spasms in the piriformis muscle
- compression of the sciatic nerve
- difficulties with walking
- pain in the legs in a seated position or with legs crossed
- pain in the groin and pelvis
- pain or parasthesia in the backs of the thighs
- cervical, thoracic and/or lumbar pain
- gastro-intestinal problems
Over 79% of patients suffering from piriformis syndrome note an improvement in their symptoms following use of non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDS) and muscle relaxants.
Piriformis syndrom: natural treatments
Several natural remedies can help relieve pains linked to piriformis syndrome:
- applying ice
- stretching out the piriformis muscle
- strengthening the abductor and adductor muscles
- stretching the muscles and the soft tissue
- myofascial release therapy
- muscular energy techniques
- alternative medicines such as acupression, acupuncture, osteopathy, etc.
The goals of alternative medicines in treating piriformis syndrome are to help the patient re-establish a better capacity for movement and to reduce pain.