Have you ever developed a sharp pain in the buttocks, felt your hamstring get tight and sore, with the pain persisting when you’ve been out on your usual routine jog? Or perhaps when you’re sitting at your favorite post-run hangout felt a tingling sensation in the back of your thigh and calf?
If you have experienced these symptoms then you require a specialist’s attention since these are the signs of Piriformis syndrome, often linked to sports that involve a great deal of running, changing of direction or weight bearing sports.
Piriformis syndrome has been a controversial diagnosis since its initial description in 1928. The piriformis muscle lies deep behind the gluteal (which lies deep inside the buttocks) and is responsible for the external rotation of the hip joint. When the muscle becomes too tight, it can affect the sciatic nerve (which supplies the lower extremities with motor and sensory function). The resulting pain often radiates from the buttocks, down the thigh, and up into the spine. It is tricky to diagnose because it’s often confused for a herniated disc, sciatica, or another back issue.
The causes of Piriformis Syndrome can be because of errors in training methods. Faulty body and foot mechanics are one of the main reasons, such as running or walking with toes pointed outwards. Poor posture or even sitting still or cross-legged for a long time can also be the trigger. Additionally, sports that require a lot of running, weight bearing activities or change of directions are often the main causes. Also, starting exercise after an inactive period, exercising on uneven ground or hard surfaces, wearing the unfitting or worn out shoes can also lead to Piriformis Syndrome.
Fortunately the treatment is not complicated. If you feel this pain after a run, rest the muscle apply ice on and off for 15 to 20 minutes at a time for two to three days. After this, massage the area daily to warm it and circulate the blood, applying a hot towel will also speed up the healing process. Gentle stretching to loosen the muscle once the pain is gone is allowed. Once you feel the muscle is relaxed and loosened, you can start running again, starting on a slow phase and then progressing. Along with this strengthening of the core muscles of the back and hip is very important.
To prevent Piriformis Syndrome, remember to do warm ups before a jog to relax all your muscles, wear proper footwear and to exercise on even ground. Additionally, rest your muscles after exercise to allow them to recover.
Mr. Hareesh Prabahakar [BPT], is a Physiotherapist at Royal Bahrain Hospital. To book your appointment call 17246800 or visit www.royalbahrainhospital.com