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Piriformis Muscle: Back, Hip, Buttock, Pelvic, Thigh Pain

Painful areas the piriformis muscle can contribute

Pain in the low back, hip, hip joint, pelvis, buttock and occasionally pain going down the back of the thigh indicate piriformis dysfunction.

  • Low back pain at the base of the spine
  • Buttock pain
  • Hip pain around the hip joint
  • Aching pain, burning or tingling sensations down into the back of the thigh which occasionally extends into the lower leg and/or sole of the foot
  • Pelvic pain
  • Difficulty or inability to cross your legs
  • Difficulty or inability to spreading leg side to side
  • Difficulty or inability to step out widely
  • Sitting for long periods of time increases pain and discomfort in the hip and/or back of the thigh
  • Lying down will often help diminish pain but will not totally alleviate it

Where is the piriformis muscle?

The piriformis muscle connects the sacrum (base of the spine) to the ball of the hip (greater trochanter).

What movements does the piriformis muscle control?

  • Twists the thigh away from the body
  • Moves the thigh away from the body
  • Straightens the thigh

Activities that cause piriformis pain and symptoms:

  • Slipping on a slick surface and trying to stay on your feet
  • Activities and sports requiring quick abrupt changes in directions
  • Tennis
  • Football
  • Soccer
  • Basketball
  • Twisting while lifting
  • Sitting excessively

Interesting facts about the piriformis muscle:

  • The sciatic nerve runs under the piriformis. The piriformis muscle will sometimes agitate the nerve causing symptoms of sciatica which include pain, tingling, and numbness in the buttock, hip, back of the thigh, back of the calf which extends to the bottom of the foot. This is known as piriformis syndrome. In approximately 15% of the population, the sciatic nerve runs directly through the piriformis muscle. These people are more like to have symptoms of sciatica.
  • Women are more prone to problems with piriformis muscle pain.
The piriformis muscle

You use the piriformis muscle when you twist your thigh outward away from the body.

Clinical diagnoses to which the piriformis muscle symptoms may contribute:

  • Sacral nerve compression
  • Sciatica
  • Hip Pointer
  • Hip Dislocation
  • Trochanteric Bursitis
  • Sprain / Strain of the hip
  • Sacroiliac joint displacement
  • L4 or L5 radiculopathy
  • Tensor fasciae latae syndrome
  • Neurovascular entrapment
  • Degenerative disc disease
  • Intervertebral stenosis
  • Ankylosing Spondylitis
  • Deep vein thrombosis
  • Pelvic floor syndrome
  • Bruised heel
  • Achilles tendonitis
  • Plantar Fasciitis
  • Cauda equina syndrome

Other muscles that should be considered and examined in conjunction with the piriformis muscle:

Satellite Trigger Points: Gluteus minimus, Obturator internus, Gemellus superior, Gemellus inferior

Affected Organ Systems: Urinary, Reproductive and Digestive Systems

For detailed anatomy information see: Piriformis Anatomy

Help with Piriformis Muscle Pain

Cold Therapy Gel For Piriformis Low Back, Hip Injury and Pain

Biofreeze Pain Relieving Gel is an excellent pain relieving gel and I recommend it for those who have sudden onset muscle pain or recent injuries.  It is better than warm therapy gels and creams for recent injury muscle pain as it cools the area much like ice and does not promote swelling.  A recent study showed that Biofreeze decreased pain 2 times more than ice and the pain relief lasts 9 – 10 longer. If  your pain is from a recent injury caused by twisting or lifting a heavy object or tight piriformis, I would recommend applying Biofreeze across the low back, top of the hips, entire buttock, down the outside of the hip and into the outside and the back of the upper thigh.

Biofreeze is recommended for recent muscle injury

Warm Therapy Gel For Low Back, Hip and Thigh Pain

Sombra Warm Therapy Pain Relieving Gel is a pain relieving gel that I use both personally and professionally in my massage therapy practice. Unlike other over the counter heating creams, it provides warmth without burning heat.  Applying Sombra to the muscles across the lower back and down into the hips, buttocks and back of the thighs can help reduce pain and tightness caused by the piriformis muscle. I recommend Sombra for chronic pain and pain from arthritis.

Sombra Warm Therapy Gel provides pain relief.

Support for Hip, Buttock, Groin and Upper Thigh Pain Related To The Piriformis Muscle

The Cramer E6 Groin Hip Spica is a full hip wrap and provides support for hip, buttock, groin and thigh pain and injuries. The wrap is made to fit high up on the thigh and around the hip with an abdomen band that will hold the wrap in place. The brace is pliable neoprene which provides warmth and making it comfortable to wear. Recommended by Physical Therapists and athletic trainers for high thigh and groin injuries. Consider this brace if your pain is in the buttocks, hip, groin, and upper thigh area.


Trigger Point Self Treatment For Hip, Buttock, and Thigh Pain Due to the Piriformis Muscle

Do you know that muscle 'knots' in the piriformis muscle can cause pain throughout the hips, buttocks, and down the backs of the thighs? It also occasionally contributes to low abdominal, pelvic and groin pain.

If you are interested in treating back and hip pain caused by trigger points I  recommend you purchase Claire Davies  The Trigger Point Therapy Workbook: Your Self-Treatment Guide for Pain Relief. Mr. Davies explains the trigger point phenomenon and muscle pain in everyday language.  But what makes this book worth its weight in gold are the individual muscle trigger point treatments that Davies has compiled. His diagrams and step by step instructions help you locate which muscles are contributing to your pain,  how to find the trigger point and treat it. He also provides stretching and strengthening exercises for each muscle. If you suffer from unresolved back, hip, buttock, and leg pain I highly recommend this book. It takes time and practice to master finding trigger points, but once you learn you have a tool and method to help relieve muscle pain throughout the body. Relieving trigger points in the piriformis muscles have helped many people reduce or even resolve their low back, hip, and thigh pain issues. This book is a must-have for anyone interested in finding the cause and treating muscle pain.

The Trigger Point Workbook can help you resolve muscle pain throughout your body.

Self Treatment Tool For Piriformis Pain

The Theracane Massager is a self-treatment massage tool for use on those hard to reach areas on the neck, shoulders, back, hips and legs. If you are considering buying the book The Trigger Point Therapy Workbook, you will need to buy the Theracane to use the treatment methods detailed in the book.


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