If you have pain, numbness and/or tingling in your lower back, and it radiates down your leg (possibly even as far as to your feet), you may be suffering from piriformis syndrome (PS). But then again, you may not. Piriformis syndrome and sciatica have many of the same symptoms, so they can be difficult to distinguish from one another – even for doctors. That’s why it’s important to educate yourself about piriformis syndrome, so you can talk to your doctor and know for sure whether your sciatica is just sciatica, or if it’s piriformis syndrome.
Piriformis syndrome sounds like it might be worse than sciatica; the name is certainly more technical. But it’s usually easier to treat. If your problems are piriformis-related, you might be able to find relief with some simple at-home stretching. So, let’s get down to the nitty-gritty and figure out whether your pain, tingling and numbness are being caused by piriformis syndrome.
Evaluate when the pain starts. With PS, the pain usually starts after you’ve used the piriformis muscle, which is located at the top of your buttocks right next to your hip bone. So, if the pain usually starts after climbing stairs or performing some sort of lower-body exercise, you might be dealing with piriformis syndrome.
Can you sit for long periods? People with piriformis syndrome usually have trouble sitting for long stretches of time. The most common complaint is numbness that goes from the piriformis muscle down through part of the leg. If you find yourself needing to take frequent breaks from your desk job because of numbness, tingling or pain, you might be dealing with piriformis syndrome.
Find the piriformis muscle and apply pressure. As mentioned above, the muscle is located in the upper part of your buttocks, right next to your hip bone. Find the spot and apply pressure, or get someone to do it for you. If you can induce the problems you get when sitting for long periods or walking up stairs, you probably have piriformis syndrome.
Visit the doctor. Talk to him or her about all of your symptoms, and discuss how you think you may have piriformis syndrome. Your doctor will likely order some tests to rule out sciatica. Sciatica occurs with disc degeneration or herniation, and both of those things are easily identifiable on CT scans or MRIs. Just keep in mind that you may have piriformis syndrome along with sciatica, and that’s a more difficult diagnosis to make.
Since piriformis syndrome is a muscle-related issue (the muscle applies pressure to the sciatic nerve), it can usually be treated without surgical intervention. All you need to do is target the piriformis muscle when you stretch, and you do need to stretch every day. Our patented Piri-Stretcher® was created to help people with this syndrome stretch the right muscle every time, so no effort is wasted and you can be on the road to recovery at a faster rate. Read More>> What to do if you suspect you have Piriformis Syndrome>>