How Physical Therapy Helps Piriformis Syndrome

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Jan 07

The piriformis muscle can cause painful health issues, referred to as piriformis syndrome. The piriformis muscle runs directly above the sciatic nerve and performs a vital function by helping rotate the foot, leg, and hip.

Though the cause is still unknown, it is suspected that when the piriformis muscle is irritated or injured it can contract abnormally, causing a pain in the buttock, leg, and foot. This pain is particularly pronounced when walking up stairs or after sitting for long periods, and is often accompanied with range of motion loss in the hip.

The pain caused by piriformis syndrome can often be ameliorated with muscle relaxants, pain medication, and ice packs. Severe pain may be treated with injections of a local anesthetic, corticosteroids, or even botulinum toxin (in order to stop the muscle spasms). These methods, however, are only a temporary measure to allow for the most important tool in treating piriformis syndrome: physical therapy.

How Physical Therapy Helps Piriformis Syndrome

Physical therapy is vital to the treatment of piriformis syndrome. This therapy very heavily focuses on stretching. There are a few ways to stretch the piriformis muscle, most involving pulling the knee or thigh up towards the chest. 

The other vital set of stretches targets the hamstrings. Hamstring stretches are important when dealing with any kind of sciatica related pain, and piriformis syndrome is no exception. These stretches are usually held for increasingly long periods of time each day and repeated at least twice per day.

In addition to stretching, muscle spasm and contraction can be targeted directly with manual therapy or massage, which increases blood flow to the afflicted area. Additional stretches and exercises will be prescribed to deal with the range of motion loss that is so common in piriformis syndrome. 

A thorough program of physical therapy can help sufferers of piriformis syndrome make a full recovery, or at the very least keep their pain to a minimum and keep the hips and legs flexible and strong.

Now that you know more about how physical therapy helps piriformis syndrome…

…if you are ready to enlist the help of a physical therapist for your pain, call us today. A physical therapist can help you recover from this condition.

At Above & Beyond Physical Therapy, we have physical therapists available at two convenient locations in both Queen Creek and Phoenix.  Contact us today.


Queen Creek Location
21321 E. Ocotillo Rd., Suite 122
Queen Creek, AZ 85142
Ph: 480.987.1870
F: 480.987.9289

3201 W. Peoria Ave., Suite D800
Phoenix, AZ 85029
Ph: 602.866.2231
F: 602.866.2261