by Bethany Eanes
The hip is a major contributor to all core work. In fact, when we first
learn to sit up as babies, we rely on our hip muscles rather than the
muscles of our trunk to do this. Repetitive motion like cycling,
running and squatting can irritate the muscles in and around the
pelvis, leading to chronic pain or limitation. Sciatica and
piriformis syndrome are two conditions often presenting with similar
symptoms. Here is a guide to the difference between the two as well as
treatment for each.
Description: Often, when a person complains of hip and back pain, the go-to diagnosis is sciatica.
Sciatica is actually a very specific source of pain. The sciatic
nerve's origin point is just at the top of the gluteal muscle in the L4
and L5 vertebrae. When inflammation occurs in this area, it can compress
the sciatic nerve and send a radiating pain down the back of the leg,
typically ending at the knee but potentially carrying all the way to the
piriformis is a deep stabilizer muscle within the iliac (pelvic) crest.
(Bright red in the image to the right.) It originates at the very base
of the spine and inserts at the top of the femur bone. It is often
confused with the psoas, but the piriformis is smaller, deeper, and more
specialized. When you feel the muscle at the front of your hip, you are
likely touching the psoas as the piriformis is more on the posterior
portion of the hip. Piriformis syndrome is the result of an inflammation
in this muscle that presses on the sciatic nerve. The pain is often
more localized in the hip and buttock where general sciatic pain tends
to radiate more down the leg.