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Piriformis Syndrome Test - Is Piriformis Your Pain Source?

In this post about a Piriformis syndrome test for finding your pain source, you'll learn a) what is Piriformis syndrome, b) a test to determine if Piriformis syndrome is affecting you, and most importantly c) how to relieve Piriformis syndrome pain.

Piriformis Syndrome Test Muscle

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

 

Piriformis Syndrome Test - What Is It?

What The Piriformis Syndrome Test Reveals

The Piriformis syndrome test outlined here is a test for a potentially crippling Piriformis muscle induced pain phenomena. This phenomena - labelled the infamous "Piriformis Syndrome" - occurs when the deep gluteal Piriformis muscle 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.

A positive Piriformis syndrome test will aggravate the symptoms of your Piriformis muscle pain, and likely replicate a) the pain pattern above, and/or b) 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 is essentially positioning the hips in such a manner to replicate and reproduce 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 sciatica symptoms. This is not the end of the world however - rather it is good, it gives you a concrete problem to fix. Lucky for you I have a potential fix below, using just one tool and one stretch.

 

Piriformis Syndrome Fix

The fix for your positive Piriformis syndrome test may be a lot easier than you think. If you think about the source of Piriformis syndrome pain - knotting, tightness, and hyper-activation in the Piriformis muscle - we simply need to undo the problem 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, you will 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 the hands of 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 ironed 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 video walk through of the two steps:

piriformis syndrome test stretch

Piriformis muscle stretch [2]

  

 

 

 

 
 
Sources:

[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.

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