Piriformis Syndrome

Piriformis Syndrome

Piriformis Syndrome is a common disorder amongst the general population and its’ symptoms are often confused with lumbar disc compression. Your physio can differentiate piriformis syndrome from other similar conditions with a few simple tests.  Importantly your physiotherapist must exclude any disc pathology in the first instance.

What is Piriformis Syndrome?

The piriformis muscle is a short, triangular muscle running from hip to sacrum (just north of your tail-bone). Its’ prime reason for existence is to help control hip rotation and pelvic stability.

In most people, the sciatic nerve passes underneath piriformis on its’ journey down the leg however in around 10% of the population this nerve runs through the piriformis.  The jury is still out on whether there is a direct link between your chances of developing piriformis syndrome and your actual anatomy. We do know that if your piriformis muscle becomes overused and enlarged it can entrap and irritate the nerve causing pain.  Some researchers have come to the conclusion that S1 nerve root irritation can cause piriformis to spasm.  Sufferers feel an achey pain in the mid-portion of the buttock which may refer into the back of the leg.

How does it occur?

By far the most common cause is weakness of the lateral hip stabilisers.  This is particularly true for runners, cyclists and rowers who engage in forward-moving repetitive activities. Other common causes are foot hyper-pronation, sacroilliac dysfunction, pregnancy or direct trauma.

You don’t need to be an athlete to develop piriformis syndrome.  The posture you adopt when standing can even be a contributing factor.   For example hip slinging whilst holding a baby on your hip can lead to hip abductor weakness.

 Treatment options

Firstly physiotherapy aims to decrease your pain and inflammation.  We can achieve this by choosing from a variety of treatment techniques such as piriformis dry needling (a westernised form of acupuncture) or massage and manual therapy to improve pelvic alignment.

Secondly, we address the underlying issues, some of which have been mentioned above.  Your physiotherapist will invariably give you some homework and postural advice.

The good news is that in most cases piriformis syndrome responds well to physiotherapy and often symptoms clear up within 1-6 weeks. https://goo.gl/aUAqyq

Finally, we will always help you with a graded return to activity or sport to ensure you do not experience a recurrence.

For more information on the conditions we treat and services we offer, or to book an appointment please call 9939 0157 or email us at info@focusphysiotherapy.com.au

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