Pain in the buttocks is no joke to our Toronto physiotherapists, massage therapists, and other sports medicine specialists. Piriformis syndrome, specifically, is a condition that can plagues people with chronic low back and leg pain.

What is Piriformis Syndrome?

The piriformis muscle is located deep within the structure that makes up the buttocks. It begins along the lower spine, and stretches to the thighbone, just below the gluteus maximus muscle. Another name for Piriformis Syndrome is Deep Gluteal Syndrome.

Despite the muscle’s small size, it plays a key role in the flow of movements from the hips and pelvis.

When the piriformis becomes irritated, it can also cause pain and numbness by pressing on the sciatic nerve along the back of the thigh. It may in some ways feel quite similar to sciatica.

The common symptoms of piriformis syndrome include:

  • Pain in the buttocks that may be an ache, or a burning or shooting sensation;
  • Pain that radiates up and down and back of the thigh and leg;
  • Tingling, numbness, or weakness of the leg or buttocks;
  • Tender spots that hurt with firm pressure.

You will usually feel the condition on one side of your body. Sitting for long periods of time, and activities involving the hips, such as climbing stairs, or any twisting motion in particular, tend to make the pain worse.

The root cause is often either sudden or repetitive injuries that cause the small muscle to spasm or tighten up. It may also swell. All of these reactions may cause pain.

Treatment: Physical Therapy Options

Physiotherapy is typically the first line of treatment for piriformis syndrome. The pain and discomfort from a mild case of piriformis syndrome may last only a day or two. More serious cases can persist for weeks. The research tells us that the vast majority (about 85%) of cases can be treated without invasive surgery.

After a thorough examination to determine not only the causes, but your current condition and lifestyle, your Toronto physiotherapists can initiate treatment, which may include:

  • Guided stretching;
  • Targeted exercises for range of motion;
  • Deep massage;
  • TENS or mild electronic stimulation.

On your own, ice pack and/or heat, as well as over-the-counter pain medications, can help less serious cases. Anti-inflammatory medications such as ibuprofen will be of the most help.

If you are experiencing pain the buttocks, legs, hips or lower back, our Toronto physiotherapists, massage therapists, chiropractors and other sports medicine specialists are ready to help. Don’t hesitate to contact one of our Toronto physiotherapy clinics today for a consultation.