Piriformis Syndrome is a Real Pain in the Butt

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A small muscle in the back of the hip, the piriformis is a common cause for hip, buttock, hamstring or sciatic pain in high-mileage runners. This muscle is responsible for the external rotation of the hip joint. When the piriformis is irritated, it can affect the sciatic nerve and is often confused with a herniated disc, sciatica, or another back issue. The difference is sciatica is generally caused by a spinal issue, like a compressed lumbar disc. In piriformis syndrome, the tightness or spasm causes the muscle to compress and irritate the sciatic nerve, causing the pain that radiates from the buttocks, down the thigh, and up into the spine. Pain can be triggered while climbing stairs, applying firm pressure directly over the piriformis muscle, or sitting for long periods of time.


Rest, ice, and heat may help relieve symptoms initially, but in most cases more targeted therapies are necessary. Treatment begins with addressing the pain by relaxing the muscle through heat, electrotherapy, massage and stretching. This is followed by strengthening exercises to help prevent re-injury while gradually returning to full training levels.

A specifically designed program of exercises and stretches will reduce sciatic nerve compression, with techniques to get deep into the tight muscle to relax muscle spasm and increase blood flow to the tissues. Active Release Technique (ART) and Graston Technique are very effective at releasing the tension in the piriformis. A trained sports therapist will know how to use a muscle energy technique that repeatedly contracts and relaxes the muscle while it is being stretched by rotating the femur bone inwards.

Your individual treatment plan may include Cold Laser and/or Radial Pulse Therapy as well. Cold Laser Therapy consists of high-powered light using a combination of radiances working synergistically to accelerate pain relief and healing. Radial Pulse Therapy is an extremely effective and noninvasive solution to pain associated with the musculoskeletal system. It delivers a series of high-energy percussions to the area being treated to affect muscle tone and treat muscular aches and pains, and increase localized blood circulation.

The techniques and therapy provided by Jonas Chiropractic are natural and non-invasive and have successfully helped many athletes work through injury to get back to pain-free running.