Piriformis Syndrome occurs when there’s a problem with the piriformis muscle (a muscle located deep to your gluteals). In order for the problem to be diagnosed as Sciatica, the sciatic nerve can be compressed as a result of disc herniation, spinal degeneration in the lower lumbar area, or a tight piriformis muscle.
Symptoms Commonly Experienced
The following symptoms are commonly related with Piriformis Syndrome and Sciatica: Pain in right or left buttock, Radiating leg or foot pain, Poor tolerance, difficulty or pain while sitting, Tightness, soreness, burning, or feeling of a knot, Pain after prolonged sitting, Lumbar Sciatica, Gluteal pain after driving, Low Back Pain, and Radiating pain to anterior thigh
Compressed Sciatic Nerve
Both conditions cause the same result: the sciatic nerves become compressed. They even cause many of the same symptoms, but there is one major difference. Piriformis Syndrome occurs when there’s a problem with the piriformis muscle (a muscle located deep to your gluteals). In order for the problem to be diagnosed as Sciatica, the sciatic nerve can be compressed as a result of disc herniation, spinal degeneration in the lower lumbar area, or a tight piriformis muscle. Still sound confusing? Let’s look at how the two are diagnosed.
Diagnosis Piriformis Syndrome vs. Sciatica
If your doctor thinks you have Sciatica or Piriformis Syndrome, he or she will put you through a series of tests. It’ll start with a standard physical exam and progress to some imaging tests. You might expect to undergo a spinal x-ray, MRI or a CT scan. These tests will help the doctor figure out whether you have Sciatica. If you don’t have visible disc herniation or spinal degeneration, you may have Piriformis Syndrome. There aren’t any definitive tests for Piriformis Syndrome, but if you have a great deal of pain or numbness when you straighten your leg (so it’s parallel to the floor) or when you press on the piriformis muscle, you may have piriformis problems.
It is possible to have both Sciatica and Piriformis Syndrome. So, even if you’re diagnosed with Sciatica, you could also be suffering from Piriformis Syndrome. Moreover in approximately 1 in 7 the sciatic nerve will pass through, rather than under, the piriformis muscle making Piriformis Syndrome much more likely - as a tight piriformis muscle can easily compress the sciatic nerve causing low back, buttocks, and radiating leg pain.
Treatment for Sciatica will depend on severity. In some cases, physical therapy and anti-inflammatory medications are enough to keep the pain and numbness at bay. More severe cases require steroid injections or surgery.
Treatment for Piriformis Syndrome is more straightforward. Piriformis Syndrome can usually be treated with physical therapy or chiropractic care (although, sometimes anti-inflammatory medications are used). Because this syndrome usually comes as a result of misuse or overuse of the piriformis muscle, proper and consistent stretching helps in almost every case. But, not everyone has the time or resources to see a physical therapist on a regular basis.
The Miracle Stretch® Piri-Stretcher® therapy tool offers a way to focus the stretch directly on the problem area: the piriformis muscle. By providing the right leverage to successfully complete the stretch in the comfort of your home, the Piri-Stretcher® can help you isolate the muscle to release tension from the sciatic nerve, resulting in lasting relief. If you think you’re suffering from Sciatica, you may want to ask your doctor if Piriformis Syndrome could be the root of your problem. You may have both, or you may just have an issue with your piriformis muscle that can get better with a proper, isolated stretch.