July 23, 2012


Piriformis Syndrome is a common cause of pain in the buttock, sometimes accompanied by pain down the leg. The Piriformis muscle is found in the lower part of the spine (sacrum). It is connected to the thighbone (femur) and helps with hip rotation. The sciatic nerve runs under the piriformis muscle. This muscle is prone to injury from slipping or falling, arthritis in the hip, or a difference in length of the leg. Such things can cause cramping and spasm to develop in the piriformis muscle, which may pinch the sciatic nerve and causes pain and inflammation. Contraction of the piriformis muscle and/or muscle spasms can lead to pain along the back of the thigh, down to the knee, which can cause a possible loss of sensation or numbness and tingling in the sole of the foot. Pain that radiates down the leg from sciatic nerve irritation (Sciatica) can result from different causes, of which Piriformis Syndrome is one. This complaint may be helped with Chiropractic care.

Who Does This Affect?

People who sit for long hours are susceptible to this syndrome, especially if they have poor posture. It can be from sitting in front of a computer, or a desk, or sitting on a wallet, or riding in a car or truck for long periods of time.

Many athletes are prone to piriformis syndrome. The athlete’s cause is primarily due to improper stretching and warm-up exercises as well as overuse during activity. In this case it is most likely that the piriformis muscle is irritated and usually in spasm.

What causes Piriformis Syndrome?

The main cause is due to tightness and contracture of the piriformis muscle. This can result from extensive walking, running, prolonged sitting and trauma. Misalignments in one or more of the following: pelvis, lumbar spine, sacrum and hip joint(s) are possible causes of the piriformis muscle being shortened and not allowing for the smooth movement of the sciatic nerve during leg motion.

Incorrect alignment of the sacroiliac joints is another common contributing factor. This can lead to neuromuscular dysfunction, causing weakness in other muscles of the area.

Some contributing factors in piriformis muscle spasm can be varied, such as:

  • Overuse
  • Climbing stairs, performing squats, cycling
  • Excessive fast walking or running without proper warm up and stretching
  • Prolonged sitting (desk, car, plane)

Many  variables can hamper recovery:

  • Poor posture
  • Obesity
  • Job limitations
  • Improper exercise
  • Smoking

It is highly recommended that you stretch the gluteal muscles, as well as the piriformis muscles.

The primary goal of chiropractic is to locate and correct the cause of your specific problem.

Chiropractic care may assist with:

  • Relevant adjustments to the spine, pelvis, sacrum as well as hip may be required to relieve the pressure from the nerve being trapped from the piriformis muscle.
  • Recommending the proper exercises and stretches to perform.

We may also suggest some form of muscle therapy to the piriformis muscle in the gluteal region in order to assist in relaxing these muscles.