If someone is experiencing pain around the hip or in the centre of the buttocks or pain moving downwards along the back portion of the leg, the individual is probably suffering from piriformis pain. The piriformis muscle is a muscle which spans from the sacrum all the way to the outer hip bone. If the muscle is overstressed, it may lead to piriformis pain. Athletes are generally affected by this.
Piriformis pain impacts three things:
1. Rotation of hip and leg
2. Balancing while one foot is not on the ground
3. Stability of the pelvic region.
Piriformis muscle is the one that mostly gets impacted because of repetitive motion injury. Repetitive motion injury happens when a muscle is stressed and strained beyond its capability, and is put to perform again without enough recovery time. Normally when exposed to such conditions the response of a muscle would be to self tighten. The level or the degree of such tightness, leads to different complications.
Like most discomforts, piriformis pain also has well defined symptoms.
The first symptom is pain around the outer hip bone. When the muscle tightens it results in increased tension between the bone tendon and the tendon which can result in direct discomfort along with pain. It may also cause an increase in the tension in the joint which will then produce a bursitis.
Secondly, there would be striking pain in the centre of the buttocks. This is very un-common. Pain relief is experienced with compression over the centre of the buttocks.
Thirdly, piriformis pain is sciatic neuralgia, which is pain from the buttocks to the leg and at times to different areas of the lower leg. The sciatic nerve is located at the centre of the piriformis muscle and if this muscle is over strained and stress it contracts and strangles the sciatic nerve which would then produce pain accompanied with a tingling sensation and numbness.
Any muscle that is used needs some time to recover and de-stress. When the muscle is exhausted, it tightens and reduces the amount of blood flowing into it. In order to relax the injured muscle, blood flow needs to be increased and rapid healing will commence. Making available fresh blood, which is rich in oxygen, to the muscle is the most effective method to start relaxing the muscle. This can be attained by controlled muscle activity and multiple massages every day.
Stretching exercises are also very helpful but should not be undertaken until acute pain is present. Till then gentle stretching, like cross-leg stretching and pulling up on the knee and certain rotational exercises should be done. The muscle should not have stiffness and should be absolutely normal and flexible before returning to normal activity.
Finally, use of anti-inflammatory drugs should be avoided till necessary, but it again depends upon the individual’s tolerance level. Such medicines can provide relief but can have side effects and create bigger problems.