Piriformis Syndrome


The piriformis muscle assists with rotation of the hip joint and abduction of the thigh. The muscle may exert pressure on the sciatic nerve and contribute to piriformis syndrome. The condition is normally very painful and those who suffer from the problem experience local pain in the low back, buttocks and lower limbs.

Causes: The piriformis muscle originates within the buttocks and is very close to the sciatic nerve. The sciatic nerve normally runs underneath the piriformis muscle. However, in some people the nerve may pierce the tissue and run through the muscle. These people are more likely to develop piriformis syndrome and the condition can be exasperated by cycling, running or walking with poor technique, muscle weakness and muscle control or improper biomechanics.

Symptoms & diagnosis: Pain in the buttocks and low back which may radiate distally to the lower limbs. Activities such as sitting, walking or running may increase the pain. To diagnose piriformis syndrome, a thorough assessment by a skilled physiotherapist is recommended.

Management: Physiotherapy will help to relieve the associated pain and symptoms. A lower limb biomechanical assessment may be required to rectify the problem long term if the symptoms are linked to the gait cycle and motion.

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