Piriformis syndrome is a little-known syndrome that can cause big problems for those who suffer from it. It is a condition where the piriformis muscle compresses the sciatic nerve—making piriformis syndrome one of the causes of sciatica. Dry needling can offer sufferers of piriformis syndrome some relief. Today, we’ll cover what piriformis syndrome is, and how dry needling can help.

What Is the Piriformis?

Before we can understand what piriformis syndrome is, we first need to outline more information about the piriformis muscle. The piriformis is a muscle in the gluteal region that runs from your sacrum (the base of your spine) to the femur bone (thigh bone). This muscle acts as a lateral hip rotator when you stand, and it runs against the sciatic nerve.

What is Piriformis Syndrome?

When the piriformis muscle is enlarged and inflamed, it easily entraps the nearby sciatic nerve and blood vessels. This compression of the sciatic nerve by the irritated piriformis muscle results in pain that can be felt deep in the buttocks. This is referred to as piriformis syndrome. Piriformis syndrome is sometimes confused with other causes of sciatica, such as a herniated disc, because it causes a similar pain down the legs. However, piriformis symptoms are distinct, and usually involve:

• Feeling pain in only one buttock
• Feeling pain that worsens with sitting or activity
• Feeling pain that is primarily in the sacroiliac region (the joint where the base of the spine and big pelvic bone join together), running over the buttock, and down the back of the thigh
• Sitting lopsided with the painful buttock tilted upwards to lessen pain
• Having the foot rotate out to the side rather than being straightly aligned when lying face-up
• Difficulty or pain crossing the legs when sitting
• Squirming or shifting frequently in an attempt to get comfortable

What Causes Piriformis Syndrome?

The overworking of the piriformis muscle is the primary cause of piriformis syndrome, but causes can also be posture-related or accident-related. Some common causes are:

• Reading in bed with your knees bent
• Sitting so that the majority of your weight is on your buttocks
• Sitting on the floor, especially with your knees bent up in front of you
• Car accidents (particularly ones where the vehicle is hit from the driver’s side)
• Foot pronation
• Weakness of the hip stability muscles
• Sudden muscle strain or overload, such as catching yourself from falling
• Running
• One leg being shorter than the other

Dry Needling Piriformis Muscles

Dry needling works to address myofascial trigger points in the muscle. When a fine filament needle is inserted into the center of a myofascial trigger point, blood pools around the needle. This triggers the contracted muscle fibers to relax by providing those fibers with the fresh oxygen and nutrients contained in the surrounding blood. Acidic chemicals and toxins are flushed away from the affected muscle tissue, and the result is a reduction of pain and restored range of motion. Dry needling is an effective treatment for piriformis because it helps relieve the swelling of the piriformis muscle and reduces its pressure on the sciatic nerve.

With dry needling piriformis:
• Small acupuncture needles are inserted into the piriformis muscle to target myofascial trigger points (muscle knots) and release them.
• Stimulation of the knot from the dry needling creates a muscle twitch reaction.
• Needles may be left in for a few minutes or taken out right away.
• Your chiropractor will dry needle any other neighboring muscles that are deemed to be contributing to your pain.

Dry Needling Piriformis in Jacksonville, FL

Piriformis syndrome can greatly affect your quality of life and interfere with daily activities. Fortunately, if you have piriformis syndrome, you don’t have to suffer. At Dry Needle Pain Relief, we specialize in providing pain relief to patients in Jacksonville, FL and the surrounding areas through the power of dry needling. At our practice, we offer treatments designed to help all our patients–from athletes seeking a boost in sports recovery, to seniors looking for arthritis relief. If you are suffering from piriformis syndrome or are experiencing any of the associated symptoms, contact us today to learn more about how dry needling can help!