The piriformis muscle is a small, deep muscle located in the buttock region, connecting the lower spine to the top of the femur (thigh bone). Piriformis Syndrome occurs when this muscle becomes tight or irritated, and it can lead to compression of the nearby sciatic nerve. Consequently, patients experience pain and discomfort in the buttocks that can radiate down the leg, mimicking the symptoms of sciatica.

Common Causes and Risk Factors

Piriformis Syndrome can be triggered by various factors, including overuse, muscle imbalances, trauma, or prolonged sitting. Runners, athletes, and individuals with occupations involving prolonged sitting are more susceptible to developing this condition. Inadequate warm-up routines can also contribute to its onset.

Identifying the Symptoms

Patients with Piriformis Syndrome often complain of:

  • Deep, aching pain in the buttock region
  • Radiating pain down the back of the thigh, sometime reaching the calf and foot
  • Increased buttock pain after prolonged sitting or engaging in activities that aggravate the piriformis muscle
  • Discomfort while walking or climbing stairs
  • Numbness or tingling sensations in the leg

Many of these symptoms mimic sciatica, due to the proximity of the sciatic nerve. However, sciatica refers to compression of the nerve root from a disc herniation in the lumbar spine. It’s important to differentiate between the two, in order to provide the appropriate type of treatment.

Conservative Treatment 

Although the condition is similar in terms of the muscle and nerve that are involved. There is a range of differences between individuals’ unique situations. This often warrants a comprehensive assessment in order to determine the most appropriate plan of action.  

A typical rehab of this condition usually involves:

  • Education on how to best protect, including activity modifications
  • Soft tissue mobilization (massage techniques) to the glute muscles
  • Nerve glides to promote nerve mobility and desensitization
  • Trigger point dry needling to help release tension while improving blood flow and oxygen to the tissues for healing
  • Strength training of the piriformis and glutes (when ready)
  • Dynamic loading and control of the glutes
  • Activity and sport-specific training 

Watch the following 2-minute video to better visualize and understand the anatomy:

At TrueFix, we are committed to your well-being. If you suspect you may be experiencing symptoms related to Piriformis Syndrome or have any other concerns about your physical health, don’t hesitate to schedule an appointment. Together, we’ll work towards a pain-free and active lifestyle.

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