The pain from piriformis syndrome can range from a mild annoyance to a serious problem. Regardless of the severity of your symptoms, these 2 little-known treatments may help you find relief:
What is piriformis syndrome?
Before we talk about your treatment options for piriformis syndrome, let’s take a second to define this common condition. Piriformis syndrome refers to a condition in which your piriformis muscle—which starts at your lower spine and connects to the upper surface of your femur—spasms and causes buttock pain.
This spasming can also irritate your nearby sciatic nerve, sending sciatica-like symptoms racing down your sciatic nerve to your leg and foot. The exact cause of piriformis syndrome is unknown, but it could be due to tightness in your piriformis muscle or bleeding in the area of the muscle.
You may be familiar with common treatments for piriformis syndrome, which include cold and/or heat therapy, physical therapy, and NSAIDs. But did you know that electrotherapy can help relieve your symptoms?
Your doctor may suggest that you apply electrical stimulation to your buttock, which can both reduce muscle spasms related to piriformis syndrome and decrease your experience of pain.
2 common options for electrotherapy are Transcutaneous Electrical Nerve Stimulation units (TENS) and interferential current stimulators (IFC). The difference between the 2 options is that an IFC stimulator penetrates the skin more deeply than a TENS unit, with the added benefit of less discomfort for a given level of stimulation.
Both options may be purchased for long-term use, so you can find relief from the comfort of your home or office.
Injections for Piriformis Syndrome
If your symptoms from piriformis syndrome are particularly severe, your doctor may recommend an injection to alleviate your discomfort. 2 common options include:
- Piriformis injections. A local anesthetic and corticosteroid can be injected directly into your piriformis muscle. This can help reduce spasming in the muscle, and may also alleviate associated pain.
- Botox injections. If you do not find relief from a piriformis injection, your doctor may recommend a Botox injection. This muscle-weakening agent can help your piriformis muscle relax, and it may reduce pressure on your sciatic nerve.
The purpose of both injections is typically to provide enough pain reduction to allow you to begin, or continue, a physical therapy program.
In addition to the above treatment possibilities, almost every treatment plan for piriformis syndrome will incorporate various exercises to slowly and progressively stretch the muscle.