Self Managing Piriformis Syndrome

Self Managing Piriformis Syndrome


Piriformis syndrome is named after the piriformis muscle that runs along the lower spine to the top part of the thigh bone. When the piriformis muscle puts pressure or presses on the sciatic nerve, then pain results which can often start as pain or numbness in the buttock area and then creep down the back of the legs. Sometimes there is pain and a sensation of numbness in the entire part of the lower body.


Sciatica is a form of piriformis syndrome, but it can also present in different ways.


Treatment For Piriformis Syndrome


If you suspect that you have pirifomris syndrome it is really important to seek out appropriate medical treatment. The condition is caused by the piriformis muscle putting pressure on the sciatic nerve and this has to be investigated by a medical professional to establish what is causing this pressure to be exerted.


The medical treatment is also important because some spinal conditions can ‘mimic’ the symptoms of piriformis syndrome or sciatica, so these have to be eliminated and this can only be done by a healthcare professional.


However, there are some steps that you can take to ensure that the condition is managed and not exacerbated, whilst you are undergoing medical treatment.


No Vigorous Exercise


If the condition has been caused by vigorous exercise it is best to avoid the activity that has resulted in the syndrome. Cycling can be a cause of piriformis syndrome and should be avoided. If you don’t participate in vigorous sports, then now is not the time to start, since the body needs to heal and subjecting it to any exerting activity may result in the condition becoming worse.


Move Around


Sometimes piriformis syndrome can be caused by people sitting for too long, which has resulted in the piriformis muscle contracting and becoming shortened. So it is important not to sit around for long periods. If this is unavoidable, for example at work, then short breaks need to be taken on a regular basis, to ensure that the muscle is given a stretch.


Apply Hot Packs/Cold Packs


Alternately using hot and cold packs at the point where the pain is most intense will usually help. Cold packs should be applied for 15 minutes or so, several times a day and then after 2 days, hot packs should be used.




Patients sometimes relate how a friend/colleague/family member had suggested they had piriformis syndrome, because they too had experienced it. The ‘local expert’ had then demonstrated exercises that they had been prescribed to alleviate the condition. 


Whilst well meaning, this may not always be helpful because until piriformis syndrome is diagnosed properly, care should be taken not to potentially aggravate any condition by undertaking exercises that may hazardous if it is not piriformis syndrome. Once a clinical diagnosis has been made, patients receive specific and detailed information about stretching which is designed to suit their needs, so any advice on stretching should be acted upon only when offered by a healthcare professional.



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