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Piriformis Trigger Points | Anatomy, Pain Pattern, Symptoms, & Relief

Piriformis trigger points are literally a huge pain in the butt. Trigger points in the Piriformis muscle can cause debilitating tailbone and buttock pain, extreme stiffness, and the ever-feared Piriformis Syndrome

Piriformis Trigger Point Anatomy

Piriformis Muscle

 

Piriformis Trigger Point Muscle Anatomy

The Piriformis muscle is a pesky deep glute muscle that can cause many issues including sciatica, duck feet, and tailbone painPiriformis is the most prominent of the deep external hip rotators (muscles that twist your leg to point your toe outward) and can cause a lot of pain when tight. Check out comedian Sinbad's bit on the Piriformis muscle here!

Piriformis content in this post:

Piriformis Trigger Point Muscle

Piriformis Muscle [1]: The Piriformis muscle in red from a rear view

 

Piriformis Trigger Point Referred Pain Pattern

The Piriformis muscle can refer pain in a large area of the hip and buttock regions. This may feel like a pain in the low tailbone region, or deep in the glute.

Pain from Piriformis trigger points is often nagging and constant in the pattern below. Although Piriformis trigger points are often caused by a single, high-impact event (such as lifting a couch, making a hard cut in sports, etc.), it is usually made worse by sedentary activities like sitting [2].

Piriformis Trigger Points Referred Pain Pattern

Piriformis Trigger Point Referred Pain Pattern [1]

 

Piriformis Trigger Point Pain Symptoms:

Piriformis can cause many problems in the tailbone, buttock, and hip regions when tight and ridden with trigger points. When Piriformis is tight - Piriformis Syndrome can occur (check this link for  Piriformis Syndrome exercises). This occurs when the Piriformis muscle gets so tight that it compresses the sciatic nerve (the nerve that runs from the tailbone all the way down the leg), and can cause pain, numbness, or tingling in the leg and foot.

Sciatica From Piriformis Trigger Points

Sciatica From Piriformis Trigger Points [2]

Other signs of Piriformis trigger points and tightness, described by Travell & Simons, include:

  • "Patients may report a sharp pain on occasion, but often they describe their symptoms as an ache" [1] p. 1369.
  • "Patients may also report a loss in their hip range of motion or flexibility into internal rotation and adduction" [1] p. 1369.
  • The symptoms are likely aggravated in the seated position (learn how to sit with Piriformis Syndrome) [1] p. 1369.
  • Tenderness and irritation in the Sciatic Notch around the Piriformis [1] p. 1369.

  • Dull, nagging pain in the region described above

 

Piriformis Trigger Point Release & Pain Relief:

Piriformis trigger point release and pain relief come from targeted deep tissue massage. After a thorough massage, Piriformis will be much more susceptible to stretching and strengthening to further your pain relief and overall lower body performance.

The QL Claw device is the best tool to massage the Piriformis for trigger point release. QL Claw is great for the Piriformis because it stays on the ground, digs deep into the glutes/Piriformis like a massage therapist, and allows various levels of pressure by the user. QL Claw was designed to release the 5 muscles that contribute to the majority of lower back, hip, and glute pain - and Piriformis is high on that list. Check out QL Claw to own your Piriformis and the 4 other pain-inducing muscles (Psoas, QL, Iliacus, & Glute Medius) today!

Piriformis Trigger Point Release Using the QL Claw Device

Piriformis Release Using the QL Claw Device

 

QL Claw 

 

After Piriformis Trigger Point Release

After the trigger points and knots are successfully worked out of the Piriformis, stretching and strengthening the muscle can be very beneficial. It is important to conduct Piriformis trigger point release first because stretching active trigger points can be impossible, and strengthening does not relieve the constant tension trigger points bring.

Piriformis Stretch: Stretching the Piriformis can help lengthen the muscle to decrease pressure and tension on your joints. If Piriformis syndrome is present, stretching is definitely a must so the muscle gets off the sciatic nerve as much as possible. Here is an example of a Piriformis stretch you can do right at home:

Piriformis Trigger Point Stretch

Piriformis Stretch [2]

Seated Piriformis Stretch

Seated Piriformis Stretch

Piriformis Strengthening: Strengthening the Piriformis (strengthening the entire glutes actually for that matter) can help build resilience and stamina so that trigger points are less likely to come back in the future. If you like to play sports or live an active lifestyle this is a must! Here are a few glute strengthening exercises you can do to prevent Piriformis trigger points:

 

Thank you for reading Piriformis Trigger Points! Leave a comment or read one of the following next to master your lower back & hips:

 

Piriformis Release

Seated Piriformis Stretch 

Piriformis Syndrome Exercises 

  

 

Source:

[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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