Piriformis Syndrome is a condition in which the Piriformis muscle, located in the buttock region, spasms or swells causing consistent pain in the area of the glutes. Swelling and spasming of 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). Pain experienced in the buttock and down the leg is considered a pseudo-sciatica and not a real sciatica which is related to disc or spinal injury.
The Piriformis is a small triangular muscle that lies deep to the buttock justunderneath the Gluteus Maximus – attaching diagonally from the underside of the
sacrum (tail bone) to attach again to the top of the femur. The Sciatic Nerve runs underneath the muscle and in some cases pierces through the
Piriformis. It’s main job is to externally rotate the hip but it also plays a role in extending the hip when the hip is flexed as well as hip abduction when the hip is flexed. Keeping these actions in mind, it is understandable why so many cyclists experience Piriformis Syndrome – from repetitive overuse of the muscle.
- Pain in the buttock – can feel like a dull constant pain
- Pain down the back of the thigh, calf and foot (feels like sciatica)
- Pain when walking up stairs
- Pain increases after prolonged sitting
- Reduced movement in the hip joint
- Muscle imbalances in the hip, leg and foot
- Overuse of the muscle during sports and activities
- Running on a crowned surface – for example an indoor track where the outside of the track is higher. The higher surface forces the muscle to externally rotate even more.
Taking Care of Piriformis Syndrome
- Massage Therapy is very effective at addressing compensatory changes surrounding the PIriformis injury – tight hamstrings, tight Illiotibial Band and low back muscles.
- Initially, it may be too painful to have work done directly on the Piriformis Muscle but after a few treatments of working compensatory muscles, your massage therapist may be able to apply moderate pressure to the Piriformis.
If you are experiencing Piriformis Syndrome, Massage Therapy is a highly effective treatment to help you identify the cause of your pain, correct muscle imbalances and get you back on your feet.