Dealing with piriformis syndrome

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Piriformis syndrome is a neuromuscular disorder. It happens when the sciatic nerve become compressed by the piriformis muscles. The piriformis muscles are found in the small muscles found at the deeper area of buttock. It functions for the rotation of the leg in outward direction. It also stabilizes the joint of the hip and for rotating the thigh away from the body.

Piriformis muscles are used in sports that require all movement of the legs and hips especially while lifting and rotating of things. There are two types of piriformis syndrome, the primary and the secondary.

Primary piriformis syndrome is due to split sciatic nerve which is an abnormal sciatic nerve path or split piriformis muscles. Secondary piriformis syndrome is due to precipitating causes that includes local ischemia, ischemic mass effect, microtrauma and macrotrauma.

Causes of piriformis syndrome

  • Trauma such as falling in the seated posture.
  • Running downhill
  • Carrying heavy objects on the stairs
  • Twisting and bending while picking an object from the floor
  • Excessive performing exercises that involves the gluteal and muscles of the hip.
  • Prolonged sitting in crossed leg position or on a hard surface
  • Poor posture and tightness of the muscles
  • Flat feet and knocked knees


  • Severe pain with prolonged sitting
  • Tenderness in the muscle area
  • Tingling sensation in the buttocks
  • Pain can be felt at the back of foot, calf and thigh
  • Pain when walking up the stairs or any inclines
  • Numbness in the buttocks
  • Pain that spread down the back of the leg into the hamstrings and into the calf muscles
  • Limited range of movement of the joint of the hip especially in internal hip rotation


Pain that spread down the back of the leg into the hamstrings and into the calf muscles
  • Take plenty of rest. Avoid performing activities that cause pain to prevent further damage and worsen the condition. Resting is needed for fast healing of the condition.
  • Use heat therapy on the affected area in the form of a heating pad to lessen the pain and the discomfort due to piriformis syndrome. Wrap heating pad in a towel before placing to the area to prevent burns and worsen the condition. Another alternative is taking a warm bath is also good for the condition.
  • Apply an ice pack on the area for at least 15-20 minutes to lessen the pain and the swelling due to piriformis syndrome. Do not apply the ice pack directly on the skin. Wrap the ice pack with a towel or a piece of cloth before application to prevent ice burn and worsen the condition. Another alternative is using a bag of frozen vegetables such as corn or peas are also good for the condition. Apply ice on the area every four hours to lessen the symptoms.
  • Take the prescribed over-the-counter pain medication such as ibuprofen or naproxen to lessen the pain and the discomforts.
  • Seek the help of the physical therapist for some rehabilitation exercises to improve strength, flexibility, stability and balance of the pelvis and core stability and endurance.

Disclaimer / More Information

The material posted on this page on piriformis syndrome is for learning purposes only. Learn to recognize and manage this muscle condition by taking a first aid and CPR class with one of our training providers.

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