Piriformis syndrome is a condition in which the piriformis muscle, located in the buttock region, spasms and causes buttock pain. It is a very common condition that is often seen in runners, cyclists as well as anyone who may sit for hours a day. The piriformis muscle can also irritate the nearby sciatic nerve and cause pain, numbness and tingling along the back of the leg and into the foot (similar to sciatic pain).
Anatomy of the Piriformis Muscle:
• Starts at the lower spine and connects to the upper surface of each femur (thighbone)
• Functions to assist in rotating the hip and turning the leg and foot outward
• Runs diagonally, with the sciatic nerve running vertically directly beneath it (although in some people the nerve can run through the muscle).
Causes of Piriformis Syndrome:
The exact causes unknown. Suspected causes include:
• Muscle spasm in the piriformis muscle, either because of irritation in the piriformis muscle itself, or irritation of a nearby structure such as the sacroiliac joint or hip
• Tightening of the muscle, in response to injury or spasm
• Swelling of the piriformis muscle, due to injury or spasm
This injury is very common in runners due to the constant contraction of the pirirformis to support the pelvis during running.
Symptoms associated with Piriformis Syndrome:
Most commonly, patients describe acute tenderness in the buttock and sciatica-like pain down the back of the back of the thigh, calf and foot. Typical piriformis syndrome symptoms may include:
• A dull ache in the buttock
• Pain down the back of the thigh, calf and foot (sciatica)
• Pain when walking up stairs or inclines
• Increased pain after prolonged sitting
• Reduced range of motion of the hip joint
Symptoms of piriformis syndrome often become worse after prolonged sitting, walking or running, and may feel better after lying down on the back.
Treatment for Piriformis Syndrome:
At home therapies:
At the onset of pain, lie in a comfortable position on the stomach and place an ice pack on the painful area for approximately 20 minutes. Repeat as needed every 2 to 4 hours.
It may be more helpful to combine a gentle massage with the ice. Lie on the stomach and have someone gently massage the painful area with a large ice cube. If ice is applied directly to the skin (instead of a cold pack), limit it to 8 to 10 minutes to avoid an ice burn.
If specific activities are usually followed by increased pain, it may be a good idea to apply ice immediately following the activity.
Some people find it helpful to alternate cold with heat. If using a heating pad, lie on the stomach and place the heating pad on the painful area for up to 20 minutes. Be sure to avoid falling asleep on a heating pad, as this may lead to skin burns.
Piriformis Syndrome is a very treatable condition. However if left untreated it can become chronic and lead to other issues like iliotibial band syndrome and patellar tracking issues. At the Chiropractic Office there are a variety of options available to treat this condition.
Acupuncture – will help to alleviate tension with the pirifiromis and surrounding musculature, if there is any inflammation acupuncture can also work to decrease inflammation while promoting healing in that region
Muscle Release Technique – will reduce any adhesions or “knots” within the piriformis which may be causing pressure on the sciatic nerve.
At home stretching – Very important to consistent stretch the piriformis in order to prevent continued tightening of the muscle. Each stretch should be held for 20 seconds and done at least 3 times per day.
If you suspect that you may be suffering from piriformis syndrome or would like more information please contact us at 416-777-9355 to schedule an appointment with Dr. Nekessa Remy or send us an email at [email protected] or [email protected]
“Chiropractic treatment includes joint manipulation and mobilization, electrotherapeutic modalities, custom orthotic fitting, athletic therapy, soft tissue therapy rehabilitation. Chiropractic treatment can be used for injury management, prevention and performance enhancement.”