Your piriformis muscle is band-like, flat muscle in the buttocks which provides an important role in hip joint stabilisation and also lifts and rotates the thigh from the body enabling us to shift our weight from one foot to the other, walk, and stay balanced.

What is piriformis syndrome?

Piriformis syndrome is quite a rare neuromuscular condition which is caused by the piriformis muscle pressing against the sciatic nerve, compressing it.

The sciatic nerve is a long, thick nerve in the body which passes through or alongside the piriformis muscle branching into smaller nerves which end in your feet. The nerve can become compressed when the piriformis muscle spasms.

What are the causes of piriformis syndrome?

Piriformis syndrome is usually caused by poor functioning of other muscles or being tight which can put more strain on the piriformis muscle.

A muscle imbalance may also displace the hip and pelvis joints, changing their positioning. This change can tighten the piriformis muscle which will then put pressure on the nerve.

What are the symptoms of piriformis syndrome?

There are a few common symptoms of piriformis syndrome:

  • An ache or pain felt deep within the buttock
  • Radiating pain in to the back of your thigh, calf, ankle or foot
  • Increased pain when stretching the piriformis muscle e.g. bringing your knee towards your opposite shoulder or when forcefully contracting e.g. changing direction or running.
  • Decreased hip range of movement
  • Tenderness when touching the piriformis muscle

Sitting, squatting, climbing stairs or lunging may also aggravate symptoms.

How is piriformis syndrome diagnosed?

Your physiotherapist can carry out a full hip, leg and buttock assessment to confirm a diagnosis of piriformis syndrome and rule out any other causes for your symptoms. Sometimes a scan may be necessary such as an ultrasound or MRI scan to aid diagnosis.

What treatment can Farrell Physiotherapy offer for piriformis syndrome?

After your physiotherapist has assessed you a treatment programme can be created for you based on what has been found. There are several different treatment methods for piriformis syndrome but each individual is different and your physiotherapist will provide various treatment methods based on your symptoms and response to different treatments.

Physiotherapy may include:

  • Ice and heat therapy
  • Ultrasound
  • Soft tissue massage
  • Stretching exercises
  • Joint mobilisation
  • Neural mobilisation
  • Advice and education
  • Biomechanical correction
  • Advice regarding modifying activities
  • Graded return to functional/sporting activities
  • Progressive flexibility exercises
  • Progressive strengthening exercises
  • Core stability exercises

Benefit of physiotherapy for piriformis syndrome?

There are several benefits of physiotherapy for piriformis syndrome and our aim is to get you symptom free as quickly as possible. Your particular benefits will depend on your original symptoms and goals.

Physiotherapy assists with:

  • Accelerated healing
  • Reduced stiffness
  • Improved strength
  • Improved range of movement and flexibility
  • Reduced pain
  • Prevention of the injury re-occurring

If you would like to book an assessment or enquire further, please call 01245 830280 or e-mail: