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Piriformis sydrome - treating this pain in the bum

Feeling a pinch in the leg? Pain in the bum? Limited strength or ‘fatigue’ through powerful movements? You could have what’s referred to as Piriformis Syndrome.

It can happen in everyday life, in pregnancy, in training and recreational athletes. But what causes it?

We spend a lot of our day between seated and active positions – seated at the desk, in the car, on the bike and “relaxing” on the sofa. So it’s not surprising that one of the most common complaints in leg pain that we see is referred pain in the gluteal muscles, in the hips or down the leg.

When going from a passive seated activity such as desk-work to an active seated position such as cycling, the piriformis muscle and other gluteal, leg and lower back muscles may spasm and experience discomfort.

The gluteal muscles are a powerful group of muscle responsible for a range of activities. In cycling, these powerhouse muscles are activated to increase speed and power through range-of-movement.

What is Piriformis Syndrome?

Piriformis Syndrome is a neuromuscular disorder that can result in debilitating pain through the leg, referring from the glutes to the calves. One of the causes can be muscle tension in the piriformis muscle, which can compress and irritate the sciatic nerve. The cause can also be from daily activity including excessive desk time as well as dysfunction of adjacent hip joints.

Often, cyclists, and other sportspeople, “stretch” the glutes after a training session but limit this to 1 style of stretch and may be missing the important piriformis muscle in this stretch.

From an anatomic standpoint the piriformis muscle originates from the second through fourth segments of the sacrum and travels inferior-laterally to insert on the superior aspect of the greater trochanter of the femur. When the leg is extended the piriformis acts more as an external rotator of the hip; with the leg flexed it contributes more to hip abduction.

What are some of the Symptoms of Piriformis Syndrome?

You may experience one or more of the following symptoms:

  • Pain felt in one buttock – but you may experience a radiation of pain down the back of the leg (sciatica)

  • Pain aggravated by hip activity, eg walking, or prolonged sitting.

  • To avoid pain and pressure on the area you may sit lopsided with your sore buttock tilted up.

  • Sometimes, you’ll walk with the foot turned out due to shortening of the piriformis muscle.

What’s the Treatment for Piriformis Syndrome?

Orange Remedial Sports or Pregnancy massage is very effective in treating this pain, often with effective results in 2 – 3 sessions, depending on how chronic the condition is.

Using some of the following techniques your Remedial Massage therapist can help alleviate the discomfort and pain caused by this syndrome:

  • trigger point, passive and active assisted movement and cross-fibre work, the therapist

  • Joint mobilisation to restore normal joint mobility, range of motion and function.

  • General Massage to increase blood flow plus soft tissue extensibility.

  • Stretching for muscle length and flexibility

  • Referral to other health practitioners including Physiotherapy, Osteopathy and Podiatry.

To ensure the best possible diagnosis of Piriformis Syndrome we recommend visiting a Physiotherapist or other Physical Therapist. Remedial and Sports Massage can be incorporated into a treatment plan to ensure effective results and improvement in your range-of-movement as well as pain management.

For more information or to book a Remedial, Sports or Pregnancy Massage appointment in Orange visit us at, click here or call 0406 039 877.

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