Piriformis Syndrome


What Is Piriformis Syndrome?

Piriformis syndrome is a rare sports injury that happens in people who make a lot of repetitive motions with their legs, like runners for example. Your piriformis is a small muscle deep within the buttock that keeps your hips and pelvis stable during activity. When the piriformis gets worn out from overuse, it tightens up, causing painful cramping, or spasms.

At Aurora Health Care, we offer deep experience in helping runners overcome piriformis syndrome. Your care includes a meticulous evaluation, which helps you get an accurate diagnosis. And treatments often include nonsurgical options, like physical therapy. You can trust our experts to help you get back to the activities you love.

The Aurora Difference

Piriformis Syndrome Care from Sports Medicine Experts

It can be disheartening when injuries like piriformis syndrome disrupt your active lifestyle. Sports medicine experts at Aurora understand this and work hard to quickly get to the source of your pain so you can get on the road to recovery.

Highlights of our program include:

  • Broad range of treatments and services: Piriformis syndrome may require one or more specialized treatments, including massage and physical therapy, which you can easily access here at Aurora. We also offer special services, including strength training and running assessments, to lower your risk of re-injury. Read more about our sports injury treatments.
  • Integrated care: When you come to Aurora, you can get all the care you need in one program. Our doctors and physical therapists work together to coordinate your care so you can just focus on getting better.
  • An understanding of your needs: Our team of more than 200 doctors, physical therapists and athletic trainers specializes in caring for the unique needs of active people. We take time to get to know about the activities you enjoy and events that led up to your injury. This information helps us deliver care that meets your individual needs. Meet our sports health team.
  • Care that fits your busy schedule: At Aurora, we don’t keep you waiting. You can see a physical therapist or athletic trainer for a free injury evaluation within one business day. Many of our doctors also offer same-day care several times a week. Get sports health care.


Signs of Piriformis Syndrome

Most people with piriformis syndrome experience pain, numbness or a tingling sensation along their backside. In some cases, simple motions can trigger a jolt of pain that stops you in your tracks.

These motions include:

  • Sitting
  • Walking up stairs
  • Applying gentle pressure near the piriformis muscle


Piriformis Syndrome: Tests & Imaging

We perform a complete exam to get your treatment off on the right track. Find out more about orthopedic diagnosis at Aurora.

Your exam will also include a careful evaluation to rule out other conditions affecting the legs and lower back, including:

  • Herniated disc, which is happens when discs (jelly-like structures that cushion your spine bones) slip out of place. Learn more about herniated disc.
  • Sciatica, a condition that results from pressure on the sciatic nerve (the large nerve that runs from the lower back to the foot)
  • Sprained hamstring muscle (read more about sprains and strains)
  • Lower back pain


Treating Piriformis Syndrome

The first step in treating piriformis syndrome is rest. We let you know how long you need to rest before it is medically safe to move forward with other treatments.

The treatments that are right for you depend on the severity of the injury and the activities you enjoy doing. We plan treatments to help you make a smooth transition back to your favorite activities.

Your treatment may include:

  • Physical therapy: We help you strengthen the piriformis and supporting muscles with the help of special exercises. Physical therapy may also help groups of muscles work better together, reducing strain on the piriformis. Find out more about orthopedic physical therapy.
  • Massage: Our licensed massage therapists reduce pain and help stretch the piriformis muscles with gentle massage techniques. Find out more about massage therapy.
  • Chiropractic care: When the bones of your pelvis are not in their natural position, the piriformis may work harder than it needs to. Our chiropractors use hands-on techniques to guide the bones back into place. Read more about chiropractic care.

Preventing Piriformis Syndrome

We also offer special services to prevent symptoms of piriformis syndrome from coming back.

These services include:

  • Running assessments: Our team includes physical therapists who specialize in helping people achieve better running form. We detect and correct problems, like not using the muscles in the backs of your legs (hamstrings) in ways that could lead to future running injuries. Find out more about our performance running assessment.
  • Strength training: Our Certified Strength and Conditioning Specialists® help you get stronger in just a few weeks. This group training program helps you build strength in your lower back and legs, which may reduce your risk for piriformis syndrome and re-injury. Find out more about our strength training program.

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