The piriformis muscle is a small muscle that resides deep in each hip. Regardless of its size, it is a powerful stabilizer of the hip joint and also functions to rotate the thigh away from the body. Proper function of the piriformis muscle is plays an important role in walking, balance, and when shifting your weight from one foot to another. As you can see this muscle is used with almost every movement in the hip and leg.
Dysfunction in the piriformis muscle can arise as a result of many factors and lead to weakness and tightness in the muscle. A weak piriformis may result in instability of the sacroiliac joint formed by the sacrum and the wing-like bone of the pelvis. Muscle imbalance is very common with the piriformis muscles where one side can become tight and the opposing side is weak and overstretched.
Located in close proximity to the piriformis or in some cases boring straight through the muscle is the sciatic nerve. The sciatic nerve is the largest nerve in the body and runs down the back of the leg, branching off into smaller nerves and ending in the feet. It is responsible for providing sensory and motor function for a large portion of the leg. Another common condition of the piriformis is known as piriformis syndrome or deep-gluteal syndrome. This condition is one where the piriformis muscle becomes tight and compresses the sciatic nerve and can result in mild to severe pain, numbness, and tingling down the back of the leg along the path of the sciatic nerve. Severity of pain can vary from person to person and in some cases become debilitating. Causes of deep gluteal syndrome can emerge from activities such as running long distances, sitting for extended periods of time at work or on long car trips, or from trauma to the region. Sitting on a fat wallet for long periods throughout the day can also put undue amounts of pressure on the piriformis muscle and sciatic nerve leading to piriformis syndrome or wallet neuritis.
Physical therapy has been proven to be a highly effective approach to alleviating and managing this condition by improving muscle length and strength balance throughout the hip. If you are concerned that you may be experiencing complications of the piriformis, our team here at Elite Physical Therapy and Balance Center are always here to help.
If you are having numbness, tingling, or pain in the low back and buttocks region, come see us for a free consultation. To request an appointment, click here, or call directly to one of our three locations during regular business hours:
Cool Springs: 615-224-9810
Spring Hill: 931-489-2022
Disclaimer: The information in this blog is intended to be informational only, and is not intended to be used in lieu of medical care. Consult a doctor or a physical therapist before attempting treatment on your own.