The piriformis muscle is a flat, band-like muscle that runs
across the buttock and laterally rotates the hip. It runs from the anterior
(front) of the sacrum to the head of the femur (the bony notch on the outside
of your hip, the top of your upper leg.) The piriformis is a very important muscle
clinically because the sciatic nerve runs right alongside the piriformis. In
about 15-17% of the population, the sciatic nerve actually runs through
piriformis muscle. This means that stress or injury to the piriformis muscle
can irritate the sciatic nerve, and cause sciatica. When the piriformis muscle
is the cause of sciatic pain, the condition is called piriformis syndrome.
Symptoms of piriformis syndrome include pain, tingling, or
numbness in the buttocks that may extend down the leg. It most commonly occurs
in runners or in those who sit for long periods of time, such as those with
long commutes or desk jobs.
Piriformis syndrome is something that we treat frequently in
our wellness center. Acupuncture and therapeutic massage can both be useful
therapies in treating the symptoms of piriformis syndrome and helping to loosen
the muscle to prevent future episodes. Therapeutic massage treatment for
piriformis tightness/pain or piriformis syndrome combines numerous techniques
such as myofascial release, deep tissue, and sports massage to reduce tension
and pain, release muscle knots and adhesions, and promote healthy firing of the
muscles of the lateral hip. Acupuncture treatment for piriformis syndrome
usually includes needling both the local area of pain (such as acupuncture
points that lie near the piriformis muscle attachment sites and the motor points of the muscle itself), as well as points on the leg that correspond to the
acupuncture channels and connective tissue planes that run through the
piriformis muscle. Depending on the style
of acupuncture, your acupuncturist may also include points on the hands,
wrists, or ears that correspond to the buttock area. Acupuncture can help alleviate muscle tightness and assist
in re-establishing the neuromuscular communication pathways that lead to
healthy soft tissue. It has also been shown to reduce pain, numbness, and
tingling from nerve impingement, such as sciatica.
Pain in the butt? Give acupuncture & massage a try.