In my San Antonio, Texas based Massage Therapy and Bodywork practice I often treat pain from various syndromes including Piriformis Syndrome. Like many painful conditions Piriformis Syndrome responds quite well to massage therapy and bodywork.
What is Piriformis Syndrome?
Piriformis Syndrome is the name of a painful nerve entrapment condition in which the sciatic nerve is placed under abnormal pressure by the piriformis muscle. The piriformis muscle attaches to the sacrum bone of the low back to the top of greater trochanter of the femur (thigh bone) and lies on top of the sciatic nerve. When the piriformis muscle becomes tight and enlarged, pain results from myofascial trigger points (knots) in the muscle, pressure on the sciatic nerve, and sometimes from the S-I Joint in the low back. Pain from Piriformis Syndrome is usually found in the extreme low back, buttocks, hip, and often the back of the thigh. Most of the time the symptoms are on one side, but may affect both sides in some cases. Additionally, people with Piriformis Syndrome often have trouble sitting for long periods and the pain may worsen when walking or squatting.
What is the cause of Piriformis Syndrome?
There are a number of causes for Piriformis Syndrome including direct blunt trauma to the buttocks, prolonged sitting while working or driving, Morton’s foot, or S-I Joint instability. Frequent or prolonged running on canted surfaces and participation in sports requiring quick lateral movement such as tennis, skiing, and basketball may also overstress the piriformis muscle and lead to Piriformis Syndrome.
Massage Therapy and Bodywork for Piriformis Syndrome
There are many ways that massage therapy and bodywork can be used to treat Piriformis Syndrome. The massage therapist will employ a number of techniques to relieve the condition. For example the massage therapist may use Neuromuscular Therapy or Trigger Point Therapy to eliminate myofascial trigger points in the piriformis muscle. The massage therapist could also use Myofascial Release techniques or Deep Tissue Massage techniques to release adhesions between the piriformis muscle and surrounding tissues while also using Muscle Energy Techniques to gently lengthen the piriformis muscle. Piriformis Syndrome also responds well to positional release therapies such as Ortho-Bionomy which work with the body’s nervous system to release muscles and improve joint movement in the area. In addition to working on the piriformis muscle it may be necessary to provide therapy for other muscles near piriformis and even to muscles opposing piriformis to improve muscular balance. Comprehensive treatment with massage and bodywork, in conjunction with a home program of stretching and exercise, usually helps to completely resolve Piriformis Syndrome.
Other Treatments for Piriformis Syndrome
While massage therapy and bodywork are an excellent treatment for Piriformis Syndrome there are other treatments you should discuss with your physician: