What is Piriformis Syndrome?
Piriformis syndrome is a condition in which the sciatic nerve becomes compressed or irritated because of tightness in the piriformis muscle and oblique muscle that controls external rotation and abduction of the thigh. This may result in pain and numbness near the buttocks and radiating down to the leg and heel.
The majority of cases occur when this muscle compresses the sciatic nerve as it exits from underneath the gluteus maximus. The sciatic nerve then passes into a canal called “the pudendal canal,” which contains both motor and sensory nerves that control muscles and sensation.
As it enters this passage, there is a small opening in which some fibers pass through while others loop around above the pelvic bone before exiting again. This is where the piriformis muscle attaches.
If there is significant external rotation of the thigh, the sciatic nerve can become caught in this loop, irritating or compressing it. It would be as though a taut rubber band were being threaded through this space and pulled tighter on both sides, causing pressure on either side of the band.
Symptoms usually develop gradually over several months, although they may occur suddenly after an awkward movement or fall that torques or twists the piriformis muscle with enough force to cause damage to the nerve.
Signs and Symptoms
If you have just started feeling pain, do not immediately think it’s due to Piriformis Syndrome. Always get yourself checked by a medical professional first. It’s common for this condition to develop gradually, so the symptoms will slowly start manifesting themselves over time, and you might not notice it until it gets worse.
But because of its rarity, many people tend to overlook having this syndrome, which lands them at a greater risk of being permanently disabled or bedridden if they don’t get treated early on before the symptoms become chronic.
Much like lower back pain, Piriformis Syndrome symptoms include sharp pains felt along the hip region but more around the gluteal muscles and pain that radiates from your buttocks to either your backside or even down into your legs thighs, and feet.
In some cases, there can be numbness as well as tingling sensations felt in the same areas. It can also produce sciatica-like symptoms, which usually run down your legs and into your feet, especially when it’s caused by a herniated disc or bone pressing against our spinal column.
How to Sleep with Piriformis Syndrome?
The only way on how to sleep with piriformis syndrome is to treat it or prevent a recurrence of getting it.
Here are some tips:
- Take short breaks every hour while you’re seated in front of your computer or even when watching TV or reading a book. You may need to stretch out your legs for five minutes or so. You can also take a five-minute walk to get the blood pumping, increasing the blood flow. If you are not working, it may be harder to do any physical activity during work hours; however, you should still try to get up at least once or twice every hour.
- If you feel that your legs are falling asleep when sitting down for extended periods, then stretch out your leg muscles while seated in your chair. It’s preferable to sit on an exercise ball instead of your regular office chair; if this one isn’t available, make sure that your feet are flat on the floor while seated in front of your monitor. This position alone will open up the hip area and ensure proper blood flow to the legs.
- Sit in a chair that allows your thighs to rest parallel to the ground when you are seated. A high-backed swivel chair is ideal, but if this type of office equipment isn’t available, then try placing your feet on a footstool. This will help open up any hip impingement you may have, and it will make sure that there is no strain around the lower back area while sitting down for extended periods.
- Take some Epsom salt baths at least three times every week. Make sure to add two cups of salt per tub full of water and soak yourself in hot water for about twenty minutes, allowing the body heat from the hot bath to relax your muscles. You can also use this time to meditate or think about what you want to accomplish that day.
- It is best for those trying to recover from their piriformis syndrome to start taking supplements like glucosamine chondroitin, MSM, and collagen. These natural over-the-counter supplements help your body heal itself without any harsh side effects. You can take them in pill form or mixed with water or yogurt each day; these all-natural remedies will also help reduce inflammation, reducing pain.
- A cool compress on the affected area is always helpful when you’re experiencing an episode of piriformis syndrome. You can place a frozen bag of vegetables wrapped in a thin towel on the lower back for up to thirty minutes each time the pain starts. Moist heat is better if you have a heating pad that will cover the entire area.
- If you sit at a desk all day long, make sure to stretch your legs for five minutes every once in a while. It will help circulate blood flow and reduce swelling or inflammation in the region surrounding the sciatic nerve. You can also do some leg lifts, and heel slides to help those muscles around your hips know that it’s ok to move now. Once they get used to being sedentary, it may take several weeks before they realize that they no longer need to be tight and painful.
- In addition to these tips, try drinking more water because this known fluid helps flush out any toxins built up in the body. This will also improve blood flow to the area if you have water retention because it will help remove any excess fluid from your lower back, which is often a result of sitting for too long or being inactive.
- Do not take painkillers or NSAIDS when you have piriformis syndrome, especially if you have had problems taking them in the past. These medications can mask your pain, and it may stop warning signs that something is wrong. When you stop taking the medication suddenly, the pain will come rushing back, and this can be pretty frightening; ten people who suffer from piriformis syndrome describe this as one of their worst experiences because they didn’t know what was going on at first.