Piriformis syndrome symptoms:
Symptoms of Piriformis syndrome include tenderness or pain in the buttock muscle. The pain may radiate down the back of the leg into the hamstring muscles and sometimes even the calf muscles. It is common for pain to initially be confused with a hamstring strain or hamstring origin tendinopathy. However there will be no area in the hamstrings which is tender to touch. Reduced range of motion of the hip joint, especially into internal hip rotation is often seen.
What is Piriformis Syndrome?
Piriformis Syndrome causes pain in the buttock which radiates down the leg and is due to the Sciatic nerve being impinged by the piriformis muscle.
- The piriformis muscle is one of the small muscles deep in the buttocks that rotates the leg outwards.
- It runs from the base of the spine (the sacrum) and attaches to the thigh bone (femur) roughly where the outside crease in your bottom is.
- The sciatic nerve runs very close to this muscle and in some people (around 10% of the population) it passes straight through the muscles’ fibres!
- If the piriformis muscle becomes tight it can put pressure on the sciatic nerve and cause pain which can radiate down the leg, commonly known as sciatic pain.
- It has been suggested that this condition would be better referred to as piriformis impingement due to the impingement of the sciatic nerve.
- A common cause of Piriformis syndrome is having tight adductor muscles (inside your thigh). This means the abductors on the outside cannot work properly and so put more strain on the Piriformis.
Piriformis Syndrome Treatment
What can the athlete do?
- Apply heat therapy to relax the muscle. This should only be done if you are sure there is no acute injury.
- Piriformis stretching exercises and other stretches for the external rotators of the hip joint should be done.
- Stretch the groin (adductor) muscles.
- Piriformis syndrome exercises to strengthen the muscle and hip abductors.
- See a sports injury professional who can advise on treatment, rehabilitation and prevention.
- Apply specific sports massage techniques.
- Stretch the Piriformis muscle using Muscle Energy Techniques.
- Apply ultrasound.
- Advise on strengthening and rehabilitation to avoid injury recurrence.
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