How Piriformis Syndrome is Diagnosed and Treated?


Piriformis syndrome occurs when the sciatica nerve is compressed by the piriformis muscle. The condition, also known as “pseudo sciatica” can result in excruciating pain around the hip joints and buttocks. The pain can be aggravated by any untoward movement of the hip joint, long hours of sitting, walking and so on. So, how does your physiotherapy specialist diagnose piriformis syndrome?


To start with a clinical examination will be carried out to exclude other conditions that can replicate the symptoms of this syndrome. These examinations could be a CT scan, MRI scan, ultrasound, EMG and so on. The examination should also be able to negative lumbosacral spinal pathology as one of the causes for the pain.

Once these conditions are ruled out, the physiotherapy specialist will perform for tests for stretching the piriformis muscles and for provoking the sciatic nerve by maneuvers like internal rotation, flexion, adduction and so on. In some cases, a specialized test called the magnetic resonance neurography can also be performed for showing the irritation caused to the sciatic nerve. However, it is rarely required.


Once the cause has been identified, the physiotherapy clinic may advise

·         Re alignment techniques of the pelvis and spine for relief.

·         Techniques for mobilizing the affected joint for restoring mobility, function and range of motion.

·         Electrotherapy or massage for alleviating pain and spasms and enhancing blood flow might also be advised.

·         A complete stretching session for enhancing muscle flexibility will also help in going a long way.

Apart from physiotherapy, doctors may also prescribe pain killers at the outset or even steroids in case the pain is excruciating and limiting movement. However, these medications have their side effects and minimal consumption is advised. Your physiotherapist is the best person to suggest holistic treatments that are free from harmful side effects.