Acupuncture: An Effective Treatment for Painful Piriformis Syndrome


By Edward Scarlett Special to The Pineapple In my clinic I am continually amazed at how many patients come seeking relief from this very painful condition. This syndrome can occur in just about any one. For example elderly patients, athletes, people who sit a lot, weekend warrior types, people with trauma’s, pregnancy moms can all suffer from this Syndrome. The piriformis muscle is a small flat, band-like muscle located in the buttocks near the top of the hip joint. The Syndrome happens when the piriformis muscle compresses the sciatic nerve. The sciatic nerve is a thick and long nerve in the body. It passes alongside or goes through the piriformis muscle, goes down the back of the leg, and eventually branches off into smaller nerves that end in the feet. Piriformis syndrome usually starts with pain, tingling, or numbness in the buttocks. The pain can be severe and extend down the length of the sciatic nerve (called sciatica). Many times it is difficult for the patient to sit or walk long distances. People can also have trouble experiencing restful sleep because of the pain. The piriformis muscle assists in abducting and laterally rotating the thigh. In other words, while balancing on the left foot, move the right leg directly sideways away from the body and rotate the right leg so that the toes point towards the ceiling. This is the action of the right piriformis muscle. Diagnosis of piriformis syndrome is made by the patient’s communication of symptoms and by a physical exam using a variety of movements to elicit pain to the piriformis muscle. In most cases, a contracted or tender piriformis muscle can be found with palpating trigger points along the muscle itself. Sometimes I have found that a disk herniation in the lower lumbar spine and/or sacroiliac joint problems, including SI joint dysfunction, SI joint syndrome, SI joint strain, and SI joint inflammation can also coexist with the piriforis syndrome. I have been able to achieve exceptional results treating these problems at my clinic over the last 23 years. I have found that using a combination of damp heat, blood moving liniments, advanced Acupressure and Acupuncture work just about always in getting the patient relief and correcting the dysfunction. Patients usually begin to feel relief right away with treatments. The patient also needs to engage in a program of proper stretching, and exercise, depending on what stage of the syndrome there experiencing. For example whether the pain is being created by an acute or chronic situation would determine how active they should be or how much they should rest. If they stay consistent with their treatments and follow the correct action plan they can most certainly expect positive results without taking pain meds or needing a cortisone injection. Many people are walking around out there with piriformis syndrome, hip, and low back pain not realizing it can be treated and resolved with a good treatment plan such as what we offer here at Alive and Acupuncture Clinic. Edward Scarlett is the Clinical director and owner of Alive and Well Acupuncture. He is a state certified Acupuncturist and an expert in multiple styles of acupuncture. He also has extensive training in acupressure and deep muscle therapy techniques. He specializes in acute or chronic pain, along with digestive and hormone imbalances. Visit