Skip to content

Piriformis Syndrome Self Test - Is Piriformis Causing Pain?

Piriformis syndrome is debilitating - let's see if we can diagnose or rule it out for you.

In this post we'll cover:

a) What is Piriformis syndrome?

b) A self-test to determine if Piriformis syndrome is affecting you

c) How to relieve Piriformis syndrome pain at home

Piriformis Syndrome Test Muscle

Piriformis Referred Pain Pattern (left) And Muscle (right) [1]


Piriformis Syndrome Test - What Is It?

Piriformis Syndrome Explained


What The Piriformis Syndrome Test Reveals

The Piriformis syndrome test below determines whether or not the Piriformis muscle is contributing to pain symptoms. We are looking for "Piriformis Syndrome" - which occurs when the Piriformis muscle in the buttocks gets so tight that it compresses the sciatic nerve and shoots numbness, tingling, and/or pain down the leg [1].

Read on to determine if your Piriformis syndrome test reveals Piriformis syndrome.

How The Piriformis Syndrome Test Works

A well-executed Piriformis syndrome test lets you know whether or not your Piriformis muscle is tight and compressing the sciatic nerve, and therefore contributing to your pain. (Piriformis syndrome test could indicate sciatica pain.  Understanding how to relieve sciatica pain while sitting and how to relieve sciatica pain in bed will help you live more comfortably.)

A positive Piriformis syndrome test will aggravate the symptoms of your Piriformis muscle pain, and a) replicate the pain pattern above, and/or b) trigger sciatic nerve sensations down the leg and into the foot.

piriformis syndrome test nerve compression

Sciatic Nerve Compression Activated By The Piriformis Syndrome Test [2]


The Piriformis Syndrome Test

Piriformis Syndrome Test Steps

And now for what you came here for - the Piriformis syndrome test. I'll be using source [1] as a reference for this Piriformis syndrome test - called the Flexion Adduction Internal Rotation (FAIR) test [1].

The FAIR Piriformis syndrome test positions the hips in a manner to reproduce/trigger your Piriformis syndrome pain pattern. A positive FAIR test will re-activate the sciatic symptoms of Piriformis syndrome [1]. Here is how the test works:

In a seated or side-laying position, position your the hip on the Piriformis-syndrome-test side in the 3 FAIR orientations as follows.

  1. Flexion - Bring the Piriformis-syndrome-test side knee toward the chest, feeling a light stretch in the back of the glute. If laying on your back, hold the one knee up in a light stretch past 90 degrees towards the chest. If seated, hold the knee up so that the foot is about 12 inches off the ground.
  2. Adduction - Bring the Piriformis-syndrome-test side knee across the body, over the opposite leg. You should feel a deeper glute stretch and potentially activate your Piriformis syndrome at this point, revealing a positive Piriformis syndrome test.
  3. Internal Rotation - This is the hardest to describe, essentially you need to internally rotate your whole hip/leg here. To do this, lift your Piriformis-syndrome-test side FOOT up and away from the body. If you are doing this correctly, you should feel a deeper stretch in the glutes and potentially activate your Piriformis syndrome.

Piriformis Syndrome Test Results

If the Piriformis syndrome test reveals Piriformis syndrome, by step 3 you should feel a replication of your sciatic symptoms. This is great news, now you know your pain source and have a clear problem to fix. Next is how we solve Piriformis syndrome (also at home with self-care).


Piriformis Syndrome Fix

The fix for your positive Piriformis syndrome test may be a lot easier than you think. The source of Piriformis syndrome pain is knotting, tightness, and hyper-activation in the Piriformis muscle - we simply need to release the muscle at the source. This can be accomplished in two easy steps: massage and stretch [2].

Step 1: Massage. Before stretching, strengthening, or doing any work on your Piriformis muscle, we need to physically iron out all knots, trigger points, and tightness in the muscle. Seriously, do not neglect this step - a knotted up Piriformis will not stretch, and strengthening will only maintain the current tension in there.

The massage step can be done by a trained physical or massage therapist, or at home with a Piriformis release tool like QL Claw. If you need Piriformis syndrome test relief right then and there, QL Claw will be your savior - its therapeutic material and knuckle-like massager can dig deep into the glutes and hit the Piriformis right where you need it. Check out QL Claw at the link below:


Step 2: Stretch. After the knots and tightness in the Piriformis muscle have been massaged out, it can be very beneficial to stretch the muscle to gain length [2]. Increasing length in the Piriformis muscle will place less pressure on the sciatic nerve, and potentially make your pain obsolete. Here are an easy Piriformis muscle stretch and demo video (under the following section) of the massage and stretch techniques:

piriformis syndrome test stretch

Piriformis Muscle Stretch [2]


Step 3: Habit Correction. After the Piriformis muscle is nice and loose, it is even more beneficial to live a Piriformis-friendly existence moving forward. Here are a few things you can do to get further away from Piriformis Syndrome:




(Piriformis Syndrome Test Relief Tutorial)


(Piriformis Release Tool)

[1] Donnelly, Joseph M. Travell, Simons & Simons Myofascial Pain and Dysfunction: the Trigger Point Manual. 3rd ed., Wolters Kluwer Health, 2019.

[2] Davies, Clair, and Amber Davies. The Trigger Point Therapy Workbook: Your Self-Treatment Guide for Pain Relief. 3rd ed., New Harbinger Publications, Inc., 2013.

Leave a comment

Subscribe to our newsletter

Receive emails every few days with back pain relief tips, testimonials, and resources