Hip Stretching Releive Piriformis Syndrome Pain Sioux City
Piriformis syndrome is a condition where the piriformis muscle spasms and compresses the sciatic nerve. A mild compression may produce stiffness, tightness, and achiness in the hip and leg. Moderate compression begins to produce dull or sharp radiating pain down the leg. Some people also describe numbness or tingling down their leg to the bottom of the foot. This is often coupled with weakness or feeling like their leg is “going to go out on them”.
The sciatic nerve is the largest nerve running down the leg to control muscles and nerve in the leg and foot. A compression of the sciatic nerve anywhere from the spinal cord to the piriformis muscle will produce similar symptoms, which is why this syndrome is often confused with lumbar disc herniations, lumbosacral sprains, or sacroiliac sprains.
Physical examinations and testing can distinguish between the types of injury that cause sciatica down the leg. Sciatica is a general term for radiating pain; it does not describe the specific cause of the radiating pain. The previously mentioned conditions all can cause sciatic pain, and each responds to different treatments. Therefore, a proper diagnosis is important to ensure proper treatment for your specific condition.
An examination will reveal that stretching the piriformis muscle will reproduce symptoms down the leg, while decreasing tension across the muscle will reduce sciatic symptoms. Strength tests that require piriformis contraction will reproduce symptoms described by the patient while walking, squatting, and going down stairs. Orthopedic tests for lumbar discs or lumbosacral sprains will not affect sciatic symptoms. Likewise tests that stress and strain the sacroiliac joint will not reproduce pain for patients suffering from piriformis syndrome. This process of identifying non-causes of the pain will ultimately lead to the root of the injury.
Treatment for piriformis syndrome involves a variety of techniques and treatments. Massage therapy is an excellent tool for decreasing muscle spasms of the piriformis, gluteal, and hamstring muscles. Loosening up these muscle groups will reduce the piriformis spasm, thereby reducing compression of the sciatic nerve. Sometimes the piriformis muscle will spasm as a result of weakness and strain in the low back, hip, or hamstring muscles. Evaluating these muscle groups will determine whether stretching or strengthening exercises will be needed.
Stretching the piriformis muscle is very important to help relieve and prevent piriformis syndrome. The treatment can be performed several times at home or work either from a sitting or laying position. An excellent stretch for the piriformis muscle involves bending the leg to 90°. With the opposite arm, grasp the top of the ankle and comfortably pull. Meanwhile, take the arm on the same side as the bent leg, and pull the knee towards the opposite shoulder. You should feel a comfortable stretch in the hip or gluteal region. If symptoms radiate down, decrease the stretch until the pain subsides. Lightly hold this position for 10 – 15 seconds. Then, decrease tension on the piriformis muscle. Do 5-10 repetitions, several times a day.
Another treatment for decreasing piriformis muscle spasms is ice therapy. Place ice on the piriformis muscle for 15 minutes, and then take the ice pack off for 15 minutes. The therapy can be repeated several times throughout the day. Some patients respond better to a combination of heat and ice. In this scenario heat the area for 15 minutes and then place an ice pack on the piriformis muscle for 15 minutes. This therapy can also be repeated several times throughout the day.
Massage therapy is an excellent treatment for decreasing muscle spasms; however, some people respond better to additional muscle techniques such as Graston Technique or Active Release Technique (ART). These techniques will help decrease muscle spasms, muscle adhesions, and scar tissue in muscles that are contributing to the piriformis spasm either directly or indirectly.
A form of trigger point therapy can also be performed at home with a tennis ball. Set the tennis ball underneath the piriformis muscle while on the floor and gently rock some of your body weight onto the ball. Do not place all your body weight or you will aggravate the muscle, which will produce a severe spasm and aggravate the sciatic symptoms. It is important to remember that less is more with this treatment. Being light and gentle when rocking on the tennis ball will provide greater relief. Being overly aggressive usually results in spasms, pain, and aggravation of radicular pain.