A fellow sufferer told me a while ago that in addition to RLS, she also suffers from piriformis syndrome. I didn’t know what that was then.
She told me the pain was in her buttock and hip. The pain radiated to her leg. She also felt it in her calf.
Same woman recently contacted me again. She told me, among other things, how her restless legs were doing. Also, she suggested that I write a blog about piriformis syndrome.
She said that symptoms of piriformis syndrome are sometimes confused with those of restless legs. That made me curious.
What is piriformis syndrome
The piriformis is a deeper gluteal muscle. Piriformis syndrome usually involves pain in the buttocks. However, the pain can also be in the hip or radiate to the back of the leg.
The pain is caused by the sciatica nerve in the lower back becoming irritated. This nerve runs between the muscles in the buttock, including the piriformis. The piriformis presses on the sciatic nerve and that causes problems.
The cause can be in piriformis as well as in the lower spinal nerve. Sometimes there is overload, sometimes a wrong posture or walking pattern, or a difference in leg length. A fall can also be the cause.
Stress probably also plays an important role in all of this.
Piriformis syndrome occurs mainly in people around the age of 40 and more often in women than in men. Complaints differ per person, but are often experienced after sitting, walking, running or cycling for a long time.
The diagnosis is quite difficult to make, because the symptoms resemble those of a number of other conditions. Examples include hernia, sciatica, osteoarthritis, tendon or bursitis or nerve pain.
Physiotherapy consists of massage, stretching and exercises to strengthen the muscles in the area around the piriformis. With the painkillers you should think of paracetamol, ibuprofen or diclofenac. These also inhibit inflammation.
The next step may be dry needling.
If all this does not work, you can think of a pain block due to an injection with a local anesthetic or with Botox.
When I delved further into the piriformis syndrome, I thought of another fellow sufferer. She told several times that she has such a pain in her calves while cycling. I thought that was a strange story at the time, because in RLS movement is normally favorable.
Perhaps this fellow sufferer does not have RLS, but the piriformis syndrome! It is also possible that she suffers from both conditions.
With the fellow sufferer I mentioned at the beginning of this blog, things are going a lot better now.
She has less trouble with her buttock and no longer the annoying feeling in her calf as often. A treatment with a physiotherapist with massage, exercises and dry needling has helped her. During her recovery she took ibuprofen and paracetamol.
Fellow sufferer emphasized that she had to continue to take good care of herself. Otherwise the complaints would come back. She therefore still regularly does muscle-strengthening exercises. She also tries to make sure that she is not too stressed.
I also have a nagging pain in my butt every now and then. I mostly feel it at night. Fortunately for me it is not chronic.
My suspicion is that I sometimes suffer from overload. I often do stretching exercises for my restless legs at night. Sometimes that is apparently a bit too much.
It is, also for me, always looking for the right balance.