Piriformis syndrome is a relatively uncommon condition that affects the piriformis muscle, which is located deep within the buttocks. This muscle plays an essential role in the movement of the hip joint. When the piriformis muscle becomes tight or irritated it can compress or irritate the sciatic nerve that runs beneath (and sometimes through) the muscle. This compression or irritation can lead to a set of symptoms collectively known as piriformis syndrome.

The symptoms of piriformis syndrome typically include pain, tingling, or numbness that radiates along the path of the sciatic nerve, which is the longest nerve in the body, traveling from the buttocks down the back of the leg. Patients often describe the pain as deep in the buttock or hip region. It may worsen with activities such as walking, sitting for long periods, or climbing stairs. Some individuals may also have difficulty standing for long periods because of the pain.

The exact cause of piriformis syndrome is not always clearcut. In some cases, the muscle may become tight due to repetitive activities or prolonged sitting. Muscle imbalances, such as weak gluteal muscles or tight hip flexors, can also contribute to the development of this condition. Additionally, certain anatomical variations or trauma (such as a fall or direct injury to the buttocks) may play a role.

During an examination we’ll ask about your symptoms, examine the affected area, and may even schedule an MRI or ultrasound. During the exam, we may conduct tests like the Freiberg test, Pace sign, and Beatty’s maneuver to determine the extent of the condition.

Fortunately, most of the piriformis syndrome cases we see can be managed effectively with non-surgical treatments. These treatments aim to alleviate pain, reduce muscle tightness, and improve overall function. Among the non-surgical treatment options we may recommend are:

  1. Rest and modification of activities: We ask patients suffering from piriformis syndrome to avoid activities that worsen the symptoms, to allow the muscle to heal. This may involve modifying your daily routine, such as taking breaks from prolonged sitting or avoiding movements that aggravate the pain. 
  2. Physical therapy: We can design a tailored exercise program to improve muscle flexibility, strengthen the surrounding muscles, and correct any underlying imbalances. Techniques like massage, stretching, and manual therapy can also help to alleviate muscle tension and reduce pain.
  3. Medications: Over-the-counter pain relievers, such as non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) like ibuprofen can help reduce pain and inflammation. However, it is important to consult with a physician before starting any medication.
  4. Heat and cold therapy:  Apply heat or cold packs to the affected area can help reduce pain and relax the muscles. Alternating between these two methods can help determine which provides the most relief. 
  5. Injections:  In some cases, we may recommend injections, such as corticosteroids, to help reduce inflammation and alleviate pain. These injections are typically administered directly into the piriformis muscle under guided imaging. 
  6. Stretching and self-care: We can teach you specific stretching exercises to help improve flexibility and relieve muscle tension, along with self-care techniques like using foam rollers or massage tools. 

It is essential to remember that every person’s condition is unique and treatment plans may vary. Which is why it is crucial to consult with a qualified healthcare provider to receive a proper diagnosis and develop an individualized treatment approach tailored to your specific needs.

Contact Summit Spine and Joint Centers for Piriformis Syndrome Treatment

If you feel you are suffering from piriformis syndrome, please feel free to call us at (770) 962-3642 to schedule an appointment to discuss your symptoms and determine the best course of action going forward. Your health and well-being of the utmost importance to us. We treat all chronic pain conditions including neuropathic pain treatment, back pain, neck pain