Piriformis syndrome: Treatment in 4 weeks with 3 exercises

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The piriformis syndrome can be a painful and limiting problem.

But with the right treatment, you can get rid of it within four weeks.

In this post, I’ll tell you exactly what the piriformis syndrome is, what the cause is and how you can treat it yourself at home.

When you follow this treatment plan, I’ll guarantee you that it will go away fast.

piriformis cushion

Piriformis syndrome treatment

  1. Buy a piriformis cushion to reduce the pressure
  2. Put this anti-inflammatory crème on the piriformis to relax it
  3. Stretch the piriformis to reduce the tension
  4. Train your piriformis to prevent the injury to reoccur in the future

If this treatment doesn’t help you don’t have piriformis syndrome but probably back pain with radiation or a herniated disc.

Next, I’ll explain more about the cause, symptoms, and treatment of the piriformis syndrome.

So keep on reading.

  1. What is the piriformis syndrome?
  2. What is the main cause for piriformis syndrome?
  3. Piriformis syndrome symptoms
  4. Piriformis syndrome test
  5. Piriformis syndrome treatment with 3 exercises

What is the piriformis syndrome?

Your piriformis muscle runs from your tailbone to the outer side of your hip. The function of your piriformis muscle is to rotate your leg to the outer side when you lift it behind you extended. It also abducts your thigh when you raise it flexed in front of you. Your bodyweight shifts more towards the middle. If this didn’t happen, you would be out of balance and not able to walk.

Your sciatic nerve runs under or through your piriformis muscle. The nerve controls the muscles in the back of your leg and sends the signals from your skin towards your brain.

When your piriformis muscle tightens, it puts pressure on the nerve which can cause an inflammation of the nerve. That causes tingling or numbness in your leg and can also result in lack of force in your leg.

Now I will discuss the most common symptoms of piriformis syndrome and why they arise.

piriformis syndrome

What is the main cause for piriformis syndrome?

The main cause for developing piriformis syndrome is overuse of the muscle. There are three reasons for this to happen.

  1. Bending and getting up often.
  2. Sitting to long
  3. Pregnancy

Every time you bent forward and got back up, or when you stand up from your chair, your piriformis muscle contracts. When it has to do this too often it can get overused and damaged. The damage causes the inflammation and tightness of the muscle.

Sitting too long also increases the tension of your piriformis muscle due to the weight and can have the same effect.

The last thing is pregnancy. When you’re pregnant, you produce hormones that loosen the ligaments in your body to prepare for birth. It changes the forces that work on your hip area, what can cause overuse of the piriformis if it’s not strong enough.

Training your piriformis muscle as well as your entire body can help you prevent it.

What are piriformis syndrome symptoms?

Two main symptoms can point you towards a piriformis syndrome. I’ll discuss both of them and explain why they appear.

The first and most pronounced symptom is a pain in the buttocks. Excessive use of your piriformis muscle causes the pain. This disproportionate use damages the tissue, making it stiffer.

When your piriformis muscle becomes stiffer, it pressurizes your sciatic nerve. This nerve passes under the piriformis muscle. The pressure irritates the sciatic nerve. This irritation causes a radiating pain at the back of your leg. This pain can go through your leg to your calf muscle. It is the second sign through which you can recognize a piriformis syndrome.

Also, piriformis syndrome reduces your ability to walk, sit for an extended period and to bend forward to pick something up.

Piriformis syndrome test

There is one test you can do to discover stiffness of your piriformis.

You can feel your piriformis muscle at the lower part of your buttocks, close to where your leg starts. You should feel a difference between your sensitive side and your healthy side. At the tender side, you should notice a delicate point. It feels like a little ball, and it hurts when you put pressure on it. On your healthy side, this ball is absent.

When you stretch your piriformis muscle, you can also feel the tightness. In this example, I’m treating my left piriformis muscle:

      • Grab your left knee with your left hand.
      • Grab your left ankle with your right hand.
      • Pull your left knee toward your right shoulder.
      • Pull your left ankle also towards your right shoulder.
piriformis stretch

When you feel a difference in stiffness and pain between your left and right side, you have piriformis syndrome.

When they both feel the same, you don’t have piriformis syndrome. They are never both tight at the same time.

When the test is positive, you can do the second piriformis syndrome test to see if your sciatic nerve is also irritated.

There is a simple way to test this:

      • Lay down flat on your back.
      • Lift the leg on the painful side extended with your toes pointing towards you.
sciatic stretch normal

Here you should also feel a big difference between left and right. When you can lift your painful leg less high and when it causes a tingling sensation sooner then your healthy side the test is also positive.

It shows that not only your piriformis muscle is tight and irritated but that also the nerve is irritated.

Piriformis syndrome treatment with 3 exercises

To treat your piriformis syndrome as fast as possible, you’ll have to help your body to repair the damage to your piriformis muscle.

First, you’ll need this piriformis cushion to reduce the pressure on your piriformis muscle when you’re sitting. That way, it can repair itself without getting overused and injured again. The pressure reduction also results in immediate pain relief.

The second thing that will help you is to apply this anti-inflammatory cream. That also reduces pain and swelling and aids the repair process.

Together with this, you’ll have to do the following exercises to reduce the tension on your piriformis muscle and to increase its strength. That will prevent the problem to re-occur.

piriformis cushion

Piriformis syndrome exercise 1: Piriformis stretch

The first and most important exercise is the piriformis stretch. By stretching your piriformis muscles, it relaxes what improves blood flow. Blood is needed to repair the tissue.

Perform the exercise like this for your left side:

    • Grab your left knee with your left hand.
    • Grab your left ankle with your right hand.
    • Pull your left knee toward your right shoulder.
    • Pull your left ankle also towards your right shoulder.
    • Hold this for 20 seconds and repeat three times.

You can also watch youtube video below to see how to perform the exercise correctly. Perform this exercise as often as you can during the day.

The other thing you can do to reduce the tension on your piriformis muscle is massaging the painful spot. When you do this, I would recommend this massage oil. It makes the tissue nice and warm, which will relieve your pain fast. It is also great for relieving other painful muscles. It’s the same oil I use.

Piriformis syndrome exercise 2: Piriformis training

The second exercise you’ll have to do is piriformis training. With this exercise, you’ll train all the muscles in your buttocks area.

Training your piriformis muscle is necessary because it’s often an overuse injury. You’re asking more from your piriformis muscle then it can deliver. When you don’t increase its performance level, the imbalance between what you ask and what your piriformis can provide remains. That’s why the pain will remain as well.

A recent case study proved that training your piriformis and other gluteal muscles is an effective treatment to overcome piriformis syndrome. However, you’ll have to keep in mind that this was a single case study. We need more research before we can make any conclusions, but in my experience, this works very well.

Perform the exercise like this:

    • Lay down on your healthy side
    • Extend your leg
    • Pull your toes towards you
    • Lift your leg
    • Repeat this ten times
    • Do this three times

You can also watch the Youtube video below to see how to perform the exercise correctly. Training the muscle will restore the balance, which will lead to your recovery in the end.

When the exercise becomes too easy this way, you can also add some weight through these ankle weights.

By adding these weights, you can increase the strength of your piriformis muscle even further, thus achieving even better results.

You can choose between different weights based on your strength.

You can also use these weights for various other exercises.

The last part of your piriformis syndrome treatment is performing the sciatic nerve stretch. It’s for people that also feel a tingling sensation in their leg, which doesn’t always happen with piriformis syndrome.

A protective layer covers your sciatic nerve. The nerve slides through this layer when you move your leg. It looks a little bit like an electrical wire.

What happens when you have piriformis syndrome for a long time is that the nerve gets stuck in the protective layer. Therefore it can no longer move properly. It results in the tingling sensation in your leg.

To resolve this feeling, you’ll have to stretch your sciatic nerve. The stretching releases the nerve from its protective layer, giving it more mobility.

Perform the exercise like this:

    • Place your heel on a chair
    • Extend your knee and pull your toes towards you
    • Try to reach for your toes with your hand
    • Hold this for 20 seconds
    • Repeat this three times

You can also watch the Youtube video below to see how to perform the exercise correctly.

When you do these three exercises twice a day, you’ll feel a decrease in pain within days. The activities are designed to break the vicious circle. If you continue to do these exercises, your pain won’t return.

These three exercises are often enough to cure your piriformis syndrome. Unfortunately some cases are very persistent and need assistance.

Dry Needling for piriformis syndrome

When the exercises aren’t enough to cure your piriformis syndrome, you can try Dry Needling to reduce the tension in the muscle.

Dry needling uses acupuncture needles to treat the trigger point tightness in the muscle. A physical therapist who took a course for dry needling can perform this treatment.

Dry Needling works like this:

First, the skin is cleaned with alcohol to prevent infections. Then the needle is inserted into the muscle right in the tender point. The therapist will keep pushing into the sore spot until it relaxes. Relaxation usually happens with a twitch which feels like a little electrical shock.

It usually takes about 2-3 minutes.

After the treatment, the therapist cleans the skin again, and the muscle will be massaged shortly to prevent muscle ache after the procedure.

The theory behind it is that the pressure of the needle forces the trigger point to relax. It will reduce recovery time dramatically.

Unfortunately, there is no study available yet that researched the long-term results of dry needling for the piriformis syndrome. However, in my experience, it works very well, especially in combination with the exercises described above.

There are no severe complications known from dry needling. It might result in muscle ache for a few days or sometimes some skin irritation.

You can’t undergo dry needling when you’re pregnant, when you had surgery in the same area less than six weeks before or when you use blood thinners.

Conclusion

I hope this information will help you in solving your piriformis pain and dysfunction. If you have any question left or don’t understand the info feel free to ask by sending an e-mail to [email protected]

If you liked the information and thought it was helpful please share it with others so they can also get rid of this nasty pain.

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