The piriformis is a muscle which is situated in the buttock, running from the greater trochanter to the sacrum.

The sciatic nerve passes under, or in some cases, through the piriformis muscle.  Therefore, tightness of the piriformis can compress the sciatic nerve and result in buttock or sciatic leg pain.

The piriformis provides a stabilising role, and can be overloaded resulting in tightness if there is a lack of pelvic stability from core muscles.  It is also involved in rotation of the hip.

Signs & Symptoms

  • Deep pain in the buttock

  • Tenderness and tightness in the mid portion of the buttock

  • Possible referral along the back of the thigh down the leg

  • Aggravated by prolonged sitting, squats, stairs

  • Pain on resisted external hip rotation

  • Pain on stretching into internal hip rotation

  • Reduced hip range of movement

What Causes It?

  • Tightness of the piriformis muscle

  • Poor core stability

  • Tightness of adductor muscles

  • Weak glute medius and piriformis muscles

  • Path of the Sciatic nerve (resting on or running through the piriformis muscle)

How to Self Manage

  • Rest from aggravating activities

  • Stretching of the piriformis muscle

  • Self massage by sitting on a tennis ball

How Physio Helps

  • Exclude referral from spine

  • Stretching external rotators

  • Electrotherapy modalities

  • Soft tissue massage

  • Trigger point release

  • Dry needling

  • Review of muscle strength and length to identify imbalance

  • Biomechanics review

  • Neural mobilisation

  • Strengthening exercises to correct muscle weakness and imbalances

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Disclaimer: Information made available by AskPhysio (Sammy Margo Physiotherapy) is provided for guidance only and should not be considered as medical recommendations or advice.  AskPhysio is not responsible for errors or omissions in the information. Please consider what the best options for your healthcare are, based on the urgency of your condition and nature of your condition. Please consult a GP or Healthcare Specialist to discuss any specific concerns that exist prior to using the information provided.