What is it?
It is a compression of the sciatic nerve by the piriformis muscle, caused by any shortening or contraction of the muscle. Sciatic nerve is responsible for motor and sensory function to the muscles and skin of the back of thigh, most leg and foot. Piriformis muscle is located in the gluteal region, inserts to front of sacrum and attaches to greater trochanter of femur. It rotates the femur externally with hip extension, restrains quick internal rotation of hip, and abducts the femur with hip flexion. Sacroiliac joint can be displaced due to increased tension in piriformis, which then forms trigger points in the muscle. These trigger points refer to buttocks and hip travelling down to posterior thigh. Piriformis trigger points cause muscle shortening and compression of sciatic nerve. Pain from the sciatic nerve compression goes down the posterior thigh to the calf and sole of the foot. There can also be numbness in the foot.
How can Massage Therapy help?
Massage will address the low back, gluteal muscles and leg muscles. First the muscles are warmed up with lighter massage techniques. Then the fascial restrictions can be treated. After that Trigger Point Therapy is used to release the tension from the piriformis muscle. Stretching is incorporated as well. Treatment frequency is twice per week for few weeks following by once a week for four to six weeks. Patient recovery is usually very good. Homecare is an important factor in the recovery. The therapist will advise on stretches and exercises.