The pain from piriformis syndrome can range from a mild annoyance to a serious problem. Regardless of the severity of your symptoms, these 2 little-known treatments may help you find relief:
You may be familiar with common treatments for piriformis syndrome, which include cold and/or heat therapy, physical therapy, ultrasound guided intramuscular injection, and NSAIDs. But did you know that electrotherapy can help relieve your symptoms?
Your doctor may suggest that you apply electrical stimulation (electrotherapy) to your buttock, which can both reduce muscle spasms related to piriformis syndrome and decrease your experience of pain.
2 common options for electrotherapy are Transcutaneous Electrical Nerve Stimulation units (TENS) and interferential current stimulators (IFC). The difference between the 2 options is that an IFC stimulator penetrates the skin more deeply than a TENS unit, with the added benefit of less discomfort for a given level of stimulation.
Both options may be purchased for long-term use, so you can find relief from the comfort of your home or office. However, before buying any electrotherapy unit a good rule of thumb is to try out an electrotherapy session at your doctor’s office to gauge whether or not it is effective in relieving your symptoms.
No single treatment option works for everyone, but massage therapy is a little-known treatment for piriformis syndrome that may bring you significant relief from your symptoms.
Massage therapy has at least 2 key benefits in relation to piriformis syndrome:
- A massage relaxes your piriformis muscle, which can prevent spasming and reduce the pressure on your sciatic nerve.
- A massage spurs the release of pain-fighting endorphins, which can reduce your experience of pain from piriformis syndrome.
Your doctor will likely recommend neuromuscular massage therapy—which consists of alternating levels of concentrated pressure on your piriformis muscle.
To find a qualified massage therapist in your area, start by asking your doctor if she or he has any recommendations. You can also search the database provided by the American Massage Therapy Association of licensed massage therapists in your area.
What is piriformis syndrome?
Now that you know 2 treatment options for piriformis syndrome, let’s take a second to define this common condition. Piriformis syndrome refers to a condition in which your piriformis muscle—which starts at your lower spine and connects to the upper surface of your femur—spasms and causes buttock pain.
This spasming can also irritate your nearby sciatic nerve, sending sciatica-like symptoms racing down your sciatic nerve to your leg and foot. But it is important to note that piriformis syndrome and sciatica are not the same thing—as sciatica refers to a set of symptoms caused by a dysfunction in your lumbar spine.
The exact cause of piriformis syndrome is unknown, but it could be due to tightness in your piriformis muscle or bleeding in the area of the muscle.