Effective treatment for chronic pain relies heavily on accurately diagnosing what’s causing your discomfort. That’s certainly the case with piriformis syndrome versus sciatica.
Piriformis syndrome originates in a buttock muscle. Sciatica stems from problems with the bony structure of your lower spine.
Our team at Colorado Clinic, with offices in Colorado Springs and Greeley, Colorado, specializes in treating chronic pain conditions without surgery.
Our expertise includes advanced therapies and interventions for cervical, thoracic, and lumbar spine disorders and numerous other conditions causing pain and disability, including piriformis syndrome.
Both the piriformis muscle and sciatic nerve are involved in piriformis syndrome. The piriformis is a narrow, triangular, flat muscle that runs diagonally from the lower spine, across the buttocks, to the upper femur (thigh).
Nerve roots exiting the spinal column in the lower back and sacrum combine to form the sciatic nerve, which runs under the piriformis muscle as it travels through the buttocks and down the backs of both legs.
The piriformis muscles, one per side, are engaged in essentially every movement of your lower body. Standing, walking, climbing stairs, running, or simply shifting your weight from side to side when sitting requires help from the piriformis.
The sciatic nerve, the largest in the body, controls movement and sensation in the buttocks, legs, and feet.
Herniated discs, an injury, or degenerative changes in the spine can compress sciatic nerve roots where they exit the backbone, causing pain, tingling, numbness, and other symptoms commonly called sciatica.
On the other hand, piriformis syndrome occurs when swelling or inflammation of the muscle causes it to press on the sciatic nerve, resulting in nerve irritation that can cause:
Piriformis syndrome can make it challenging to sit at a desk, drive a car, or perform other routine activities.
Piriformis syndrome may be related to a variety of activities that increase the risk of muscle swelling or spasms, including:
You may also have primary piriformis syndrome, which occurs when the sciatic nerve runs unusually close to the piriformis, increasing your risk of pain and other symptoms.
Treatment at Colorado Clinic always starts with a thorough evaluation and accurate diagnosis that may require imaging studies to rule out spinal issues.
Your individualized treatment strategy may include:
Your Colorado Clinic provider may also recommend various treatments, such as nerve blocks, to eliminate pain as you undergo physical rehab, modify your activities, or otherwise address the underlying cause of piriformis syndrome.
Schedule an evaluation at Colorado Clinic today for definitive nonsurgical treatment you can rely on to effectively address chronic pain. Call the office or request an appointment online.