Piriformis Syndrome Physiotherapy Toronto Downtown
What is Piriformis Syndrome?
Piriformis syndrome is a neuromuscular disorder that is caused by the piriformis muscle compressing the sciatic nerve. The piriformis muscle is a flat muscle located in the gluteal region, also known as the buttocks area. This muscle is important because it helps stablize the hip joint and is responsible for rotating our leg outwards, which lets us shift our body weight to the opposite foot that is being lifted and not letting us fall over. The sciatic nerve is the longest and widest nerve in the human body running from the low back through the buttocks and down the back of the leg. When the Piriformis muscle spasms, it puts pressure on the sciatic nerve and causes pain and numbness in the gluteal region and sometimes radiates down the leg.
What Causes Piriformis Syndrome?
Piriformis syndrome is caused when the piriformis muscle becomes tight or spasms, which puts pressure on the sciatic nerve. Sitting for long periods of time may cause the muscle to contract and increase pain. This is why bikers may be particularly at risk for developing this syndrome. When the leg is rotated externally (or outward) the piriformis muscle is shortened, and if held in this position for a prolonged period of time pain can start to appear. Another cause is over working the muscles of the hip or the gluteal muscles. Individuals with poor posture, as well as gait problems may also start to experience pirifromis syndrome symptoms. If individuals have tight sacroiliac joints they may alter the way they walk and put more stress on the piriformis muscle causing spasms and pressure on the sciatic nerve.
Signs and Symptoms of Piriformis Syndrome:
- Pain, numbness or tingling in the buttocks and/or lower back
- Difficulties sitting down on the affected side
- Difficulties climbing stairs
- Pain radiating down the leg
Initial Treatment of Piriformis Syndrome:
Initial treatment includes addressing painful symptoms by using ice and heat. Rest is usually recommended especially in positions that induce pain. For example, if you experience a lot of pain sitting for long periods of time it would be best if you got up every so often and walked around.
Physiotherapy treatments for Piriformis Syndrome includes:
Stretching the muscle prevents compression of the sciatic nerve and help get rid of any radiating pain. Physiotherapist can give you the proper stretches and strengthen exercise tailored to your needs, while also showing you the correct way to complete the exercises to ensure successful treatment. Learning a few stretches can be very helpful as stretching relieves muscle tightness, which alleviates the pressure from the piriformis muscle on the sciatic nerve, thus reducing pain.
Shockwave Therapy is sometime used to help break up fibrosed tissue in the buttocks and piriformis. This powerful treatments quickly reduces tightness and relieves pain.
Spinal Decompression can be very useful, especially when Piriformis syndrome happens secondary to a disc herniation or disc bulge in the lower back.
Acupuncture needles can be inserted into the motor point of the piriformis and the sciatic notch helping to reduce spasm and relieve pain.