How Women Can Overcome Piriformis Syndrome

Category: Back Pain | Author: Stefano Sinicropi

Woman with back pain

Are you dealing with discomfort in your lower back, buttocks and upper legs? If so, you may be dealing with a condition known as piriformis syndrome. Piriformis syndrome is categorized by damage to the piriformis muscle, which is a small but essential muscle located deep within the lower back and buttock region. And while it can affect men and women alike, statistics show that women are six times more likely to be plagued by piriformis syndrome. With that in mind, we wanted to use today’s blog to discuss how women can work to treat symptoms of piriformis syndrome.

Causes And Symptoms Of Piriformis Syndrome

Damage or irritation of the piriformis muscle can occur for a variety of reasons, including acute trauma, repetitive stress or poor posture. While both men and women are affected by these issues, women oftentimes face one major bodily trauma that men don’t, and that’s the pregnancy and the childbirth process. Pregnancy (and the resulting hormonal changes) and delivery are major traumas to your hips, pelvis and buttock region, and this process can easily lead to trouble for your piriformis muscle.

Symptoms of piriformis syndrome include:

  • Pain in the lower back or buttocks
  • Numbness
  • Difficulty standing for extended periods of time
  • Leg weakness
  • Throbbing or burning sensation

Diagnosing And Treating Piriformis Syndrome

If you’re dealing with pain or discomfort deep within your pelvis, have a conversation with your primary physician or a spine specialist like Dr. Sinicropi. Piriformis syndrome can masquerade as different issues like a herniated disc or sacroiliac joint dysfunction, and you need to know what you’re dealing with in order to pursue the most effective treatments. Your doctor can work to pinpoint piriformis syndrome with the help of a clinical exam, movement screens and imaging tests to provide an in-depth assessment of the bones and soft tissues in the region.

Assuming an issue with your piriformis muscle is the blame, your doctor will begin by walking you through some common conservative care plans. The majority of women will experience significant or complete relief through non-operative treatment that more invasive care is not necessary, especially when the issue is identified early, so don’t ignore the problem and hope that it goes away on its own.

Piriformis syndrome treatment typically focuses on strengthening the muscle and slowly expanding its comfortable range of motion so that different movements don’t trigger symptoms. Because of this, physical therapy is the most common and effective treatment. Strengthening and stretching the muscle with targeted movements can help it become capable of handling stress that is placed on the area during daily movements. Many patients notice a significant improvement in symptoms by working with a professional physical therapist for just a couple of weeks. Best of all, your PT can give you some home-based exercises that you can perform so that you can continue developing your piriformis muscle long after your in-clinic sessions are over. They can help give you the tools you need to manage the condition on your own.

Aside from physical therapy, some complementary treatments that may be recommended include:

  • Short-term rest/Activity modification
  • Ice/Heat therapy
  • Anti-inflammatory medications
  • Walking or other low impact exercises like swimming or cycling
  • Weight management

As we mentioned above, oftentimes these treatments yield enough improvement that further care is not warranted, but in rare instances where symptoms progress, your doctor may discuss the possibility of an anesthetic injection or a minimally invasive surgical procedure. Both of these techniques tend to be highly effective, but are rarely needed.

Don’t struggle with lower back and buttocks pain any longer. Connect with Dr. Sinicropi and the team at The Midwest Spine & Brain Institute for the treatment you deserve. For more information, or for help with a different spinal issue, reach out to our team today at (651) 430-3800.

Comments are closed.

Make an Appointment