Image of a skeleton depicting the anatomic attachments of the piriformis muscle commonly affected by Piriformis Syndrome

Piriformis Syndrome – What is it and how can Myotherapy and massage help relieve the symptoms?

What is Piriformis Syndrome?

Quite literally, a pain in the butt! To better understand Piriformis Syndrome firstly you need to know about the Piriformis muscle.

What is the Piriformis?

Your Piriformis muscle is a small muscle that lies deep to your gluteal muscles and provides a large amount of stability and control through the hip. It originates at your sacrum (base of spine) and inserts into the greater trochanter of your femur (the bone part of your upper thigh bone).

Its main function is external rotation of the hip (when you turn your knee/feet outwards), however due to the position of its attachments when the hip is flexed its function changes to abduction (when your leg moves out to the side and away from the midline) and internal rotation (when your bent knee rolls inwards and your foot rolls out).

What differs from person to person is how the piriformis sits in relation to the sciatic nerve. In most people the sciatic nerve sits below the piriformis muscle, however in some people it may sit above or even pierce through the piriformis muscle belly.

So what is Piriformis Syndrome?

Piriformis Syndrome is where tension though the piriformis causes compression to the sciatic nerve. As explained above the sciatic nerve can either run under, over or even through the piriformis and therefore when your piriformis becomes tight or inflamed, this can cause irritation and compression to the sciatic nerve and bring on some or all of the following symptoms:

  • Pain or ache in the buttock area (one sided)
  • Radiating pain/ache, tingling, numbness or altered sensation down the back of the affected leg
  • Can be aggravated by walking or running, climbing stairs or prolonged sitting
  • There may be a rotation (turning in or out of the foot) in the affected leg due to the shortening of the muscle

What Causes Piriformis Syndrome?

In most cases, Piriformis Syndrome is caused by the muscle overworking. Basically, when a little muscle takes over the job of a big muscle, watch out!

This can be caused by:

  • Poor hip stability
  • Weak or inactive glutes
  • Over pronating feet, poor foot and arch stability
  • Long periods of sitting – desk workers!

What should you do if you are experiencing similar symptoms?

Often the symptoms of Piriformis Syndrome can mimic those of more complex or serious injuries from the lower spine, which is why it’s important to have a full assessment to rule out any more complicated issues.

How can Osteopathy, Myotherapy or Massage help relieve the symptoms?

Once you have been diagnosed with Piriformis Syndrome, manual therapy including massage can effectively reduce pain and increase mobility by releasing the piriformis muscle and surrounding muscles. Osteopathy and Myotherapy can also asses and treat any postural asymmetries that may be the cause or contributing to your condition.

Any appropriate stretches or exercises, such as foam rolling the glutes can prescribed to help relieve your pain.

For tips on foam rolling read our blog

If you’re experiencing any buttock pain or referral down your leg, book an appointment with an Osteopath or Myotherapist at Holistic Bodyworks today for an assessment and treatment.
Call (03) 9570 3388