The piriformis muscle is a small muscle that sits deep in your buttock. Considering it’s so tiny, it does a lot of work.
Piriformis syndrome is when this muscle spasms, and causes pain all around the hip area. If you have piriformis syndrome you may have the following symptoms:
- A dull ache in your buttock.
- Pain down the back of your thigh, calf and foot.
- Pain when walking up stairs, or uphill.
- Pain after you’ve been sat down for a while.
- Reduced movement in your hip.
Piriformis syndrome can irritate your sciatic nerve. So if you are suffering from sciatica, it could be this syndrome that is causing your problems.
What causes piriformis syndrome?
Piriformis syndrome is usually caused by your piriformis having to do too much work. Vigorous repeated activity such as long distance running can cause piriformis syndrome, as can prolonged sitting. If you’ve had a trauma to the hip area, this could be a cause too.
How can you relieve the symptoms of piriformis syndrome?
There are a variety of techniques that people use to relieve their piriformis syndrome symptoms.
- Some people find that lying or sitting on the floor with one or two tennis balls under their buttocks, and then rolling around, using the balls to self massage is very satisfying. Other people use a foam roller.
- A deep sports massage can provide a lot of relief to a tight or spasmed piriformis muscle. Acupuncture can reduce muscle tightness around your bum and hip.
- Ideally, you would avoid the activities that had caused your piriformis while you were in pain. Like spending less time sitting, or changing your running routine to avoid hills and sharp turns.
Your piriformis syndrome needs to be diagnosed properly to rule out other conditions. A physio will be able to assess whether the pain in your buttocks is caused by your piriformis muscle, or by something else. Your sciatic nerve irritation could be caused by something like a bulging disc in your lower back but be giving you the same symptoms as piriformis syndrome. Whether it’s a bulging disc, or piriformis syndrome, your physiotherapist will be able to provide you with therapies that will treat your pain. Your physio may take a look at your biomechanics to see what is causing the syndrome to provide a long term solution, not just temporary symptom relief.