What is Piriformis?

Experiencing buttock pain? It could be linked to the piriformis muscle, located deep in the buttocks and extending from the sacrum (tail bone) to the hip. This muscle, present on both sides, has the sciatic nerve passing through it in around 90% of individuals. As a consequence, problems with the piriformis can mimic sciatica, causing discomfort. Seeking guidance from a physiotherapist specialised in buttock pain could offer relief and tailored solutions.

Signs of piriformis syndrome

  • Deep buttock pain, often described as an aching, burning, throbbing, or shooting pain.
  • Numbness and tingling in the buttock and down the leg. 
  • Difficulty sitting for extended periods of time, especially on hard or uneven surfaces.
  • Weakness or difficulty moving the leg on the affected side, especially in specific directions that put tension on the piriformis muscle.

Causes of Piriformis Syndrome

  • Prolonged Sitting (office workers, drivers, bike riders).
  • Trauma to the hip or buttock area.
  • Muscle overuse, such as repetitive movements from running or cycling.
  • Strengthening exercises that result in muscle bulking ie weight-lifting, pre-season conditioning).
  • Poor posture creating an imbalance in the hip and pelvis muscles, causing piriformis to become tight or strained.
  • Anatomic anomalies within the muscle itself.
buttock pain physio

 

Is Piriformis Syndrome really just Sciatica?

True sciatica (a variety of sensory and/or motor symptoms that travel down the leg) originates from the spinal level where the nerve exits from the spine. Piriformis syndrome originates in the buttock. Intense buttocks pain is often a classic symptom of piriformis syndrome, whilst pain in the calf region below the knee is more common with sciatica. Both conditions can cause pain down the leg.

What will a physiotherapist do?

During your consultation with a physiotherapist who is experience with buttock pain, a comprehensive assessment occurs. This includes an in-depth review of your medical history, examination of any imaging studies, and a series of physical tests. Piriformis syndrome diagnosis requires multiple tests for accuracy. Moreover, the physiotherapist seeks to pinpoint contributing factors to craft a personalised treatment plan. The treatment objectives encompass alleviating pain, easing tension, enhancing posture, and boosting strength.

To make an appointment, call our Claremont physio clinic on (08) 9384 1555 or our Nedlands physio clinic on (08) 6389 2947.

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