Piriformis Syndrome is a condition that occurs when the piriformis, a muscle located deep within the buttocks region, irritates the sciatic nerve, a large nerve starting in the lower back that runs to the thigh, leg, and foot. When one suffers from Piriformis syndrome, they generally experience pain, numbness, or tingling originating in the buttock that frequently radiates to the thigh and leg.  In severe cases weakness in the thigh and leg can also be reported. Luckily, those who suffer from Piriformis syndrome do have treatment options that can effectively reduce the symptoms of the syndrome. These treatments are generally performed by a physical therapist with extensive knowledge regarding the syndrome and other conditions like it. The following physical therapy treatments are just a few ways a physical therapist can help an individual with Piriformis syndrome.

Stretching

One of the most straightforward ways a physical therapist can help an individual with Piriformis syndrome is by instructing them on how to do particular stretches. A physical therapist will instruct the patient regarding the proper ways to do particular stretches and prescribe a regimen of a few exercises to be performed at home.  According to studies, patients who do the stretches prescribed by their physical therapist both in their physical therapist’s office and at home see a 60-70% increase in leg range-of-motion (the range one is able to move and stretch their leg). Essentially, the technical goal of these types of stretches is to improve the elasticity of the deep buttock muscles that are cause Piriformis syndrome in order to reduce the debilitating effects of the condition. Depending on the physical therapist, they may choose to add weights or other tools to the stretches in order to increase their effects.

Myofascial Release Therapy

The second most common way that physical therapists can help with Piriformis syndrome is through what is called Myofascial Release Therapy. This therapy aims to release restrictions and tightness in particular muscles and other connective tissues in order to increase flexibility and range-of-motion in a particular area. Usually, this type of therapy involves stretching the patient’s leg in a specialized way from anywhere between 90 to 120 seconds and then moving it back to its original position. The physical therapist performs multiple repetitions of this movement in order to encourage more mobility in targeted tissues and muscles.

Physical Therapy Combined with Medication

Lastly, physical therapists can also help those with Piriformis syndrome through a combination of the above physical therapies along with medication. This type of medication is generally a combination of steroids or other anti-inflammatories that reduce the severity of particular Piriformis syndrome symptoms. Thanks to the steroids, the patient is generally then able to respond more favorably to some of the more aggressive physical therapies by their physical therapist. In cases where symptoms are more resistant to treatment, patients may require Botox injections to help relax muscle spasm and tightness responsible for Piriformis syndrome. According to studies, not only does this method work faster than physical therapy alone, but the recovery is generally more profound.

Do You Have Piriformis Syndrome?

If you or someone you know is currently suffering from Piriformis syndrome, they do not need to keep living with the pain. It is highly recommended that those with Piriformis syndrome seek the help of a physical therapist for the aforementioned treatments and possibly any other specialized treatments that the physical therapist suggests, as the above methods are tested and can help improve sufferer’s quality of life.

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