Piriformis Syndrome Treatment

Piriformis Syndrome is a neuromuscular disorder caused by the compression or irritation of the sciatic nerve by the piriformis muscle.

At Vitalis Physiotherapy, our treatment aims to:

What is Piriformis Syndrome?

The piriformis muscle connects the sacrum to the top of each thigh bone (femur). The muscle is crucial in stabilising the hip joints and facilitating rotating movements of the hip, leg and foot. The anatomy of the sciatic nerve  varies person to person. In what is classified as normal relationship, the piriformis is superior to the sciatic nerve. Other variations have the nerve superior to the muscle or even going through the middle of the muscle, increasing the likelihood of irritating the sciatic nerve. Piriformis syndrome involves the piriformis muscle causing irritation of the sciatic nerve, resulting in pain and limited movement.

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Primary Piriformis Syndrome

This is an anatomical cause where the actual anatomical positioning of the Piriformis muscle to the sciatic nerve causes the issue. Variations, such as a split piriformis muscle, split sciatic nerve, or an anomalous sciatic nerve path increase the chances of developing primary piriformis syndrome. Among patients with piriformis syndrome, fewer than 15% of cases have primary causes.

Secondary Piriformis Syndrome

Secondary piriformis syndrome occurs as a result of an injury or accident to the region, resulting in macrotrauma, microtrauma or ischemia (reduced blood flow). This leads to inflammation and irritation, which compresses the nearby sciatic nerve.

What are the causes?

Piriformis Syndrome can be triggered by the following:

  • Macrotrauma is the common cause of 50% of piriformis syndrome cases. This can result from macrotrauma to the buttocks, leading to inflammation of soft tissue, muscle spasms, or both, with resulting sciatic nerve compression.
  • Muscle spasms of the Piriformis muscle are most often caused by direct trauma, post-surgical injury, lumbar and sacroiliac joint pathologies or overuse.
  • Shortening of the muscles can cause piriformis syndrome due to altered biomechanics of the lower limb, low back and pelvic regions. This results in compression or irritation of the sciatic nerve which may cause pain in the sciatic nerve distribution in the gluteal area, thigh, leg and foot.
  • Microtrauma may result from overuse of the piriformis muscle, such as in long-distance walking, running or by direct compression. An example of direct compression is known as “wallet neuritis” – a repetitive trauma caused by sitting on hard surfaces.

The cause and symptoms of piriformis syndrome are similar to and could mask other musculoskeletal conditions. This is why it is best to seek expert assessment to determine the cause of your pain.

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What are the symptoms?

  • Lower back pain
  • Referred pain in the pelvic/buttocks, thigh, calf and/or foot area (Sciatica)
  • Worsened pain after periods of activity or sitting
  • Pain when climbing stairs or incline
  • Swelling of the leg
  • Reduced range of motion in the hip joint or Lumbar Spine

Treatment for Piriformis Syndrome

More often than not, pain is triggered by activities and movements which aggravate the muscle. Avoid positions or movements which worsen the pain.

At Vitalis Physiotherapy, we assess and treat pirifomis syndrome through a specific treatment plan tailored to your recovery needs. This can be through:

  • Soft tissue mobilisations (massage)
  • Stretching regime
  • Cores strengthening
  • Movement and Balance exercises
  • Home exercise and self-management techniques
  • Heat therapy
  • Dry needling
  • Taping
  • Shockwave Therapy
  • Graded Exposure to load program

The physiotherapist may also advise you to rest, ice or heat the area depending on the cause and, if necessary, recommend medication which may relieve pain.


How to book an appointment?

If you have piriformis syndrome, or you’re looking for a ‘physiotherapist near me’, our physios at Vitalis Physiotherapy can assess your condition to tailor a unique rehabilitation plan to aid in your pain relief and recovery.

All you need to do is just give us a call on 0410 559 856 and request an initial appointment. Please let our friendly reception staff know the background and severity of your condition.

You can visit our FAQs for more information about appointments at Vitalis Physiotherapy.

Need Help?

Are you in pain caused by piriformis syndrome? Contact Vitalis Physiotherapy now to book in your treatment.

Call our friendly team on 0410 559 856. We’d love to help.

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Sinnamon Park Village

3/58 Oldfield Road, Sinnamon Park Qld 4073


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