Piriformis syndrome is a rare type of sciatica caused by irritation to the sciatic nerve by a muscle in the buttock known as the piriformis. Piriformis syndrome is characterized by pain, tingling and/or numbness in the buttock and sometimes down the leg. Unlike the other types of sciatica, diagnosing piriformis syndrome is a matter of ruling out all possible causes. For this and other reasons, there is controversy around the accuracy of piriformis syndrome diagnosis. Piriformis syndrome was first described in medical literature more than 60 years ago.
Like sciatica, piriformis syndrome contributes to buttock and leg pain. The pain of piriformis syndrome is brought on when climbing uphill, and when sitting for long periods of time. Physical therapy can help break the cycle of spasm and pain with stretching exercises. Sometimes physical therapy can be enhanced with steroid injections into the area, or injections of local anesthetic. Surgery for piriformis syndrome is very rare, and is usually only considered after all conservative care techniques have been tried with unsatisfactory results.
NINDS Piriformis Syndrome Information Page. (Feb 2007). NINDS Piriformis Syndrome Information Page . In NINDS Web Site [Web]. Bethesda: National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke. Retrieved Feb 14 2007, from http://www.ninds.nih.gov/disorders/piriformis_syndrome/piriformis_syndrome.htm
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