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Piriformis Syndrome: Is Acupuncture The Answer?


Can individuals with piriformis syndrome incorporate acupuncture with various therapies to reduce sciatic nerve pain and other symptoms?


As many individuals move around from one location to another thanks to the lower body extremities, the surrounding muscles, ligaments, nerve roots, and tissues help contribute to the sensory-motor function of the hips, legs, buttocks, and feet. All these muscle groups factor in to ensure they can be mobile without the effects of pain or discomfort. However, many factors and issues can cause the surrounding muscles to develop musculoskeletal problems over time, affecting a person’s mobility. One of the muscles that helps share the responsibility for mobility to hips and buttocks is the piriformis muscle, which is often overlooked when various injuries or repetitive motions start to affect a person’s ability to walk. Today’s article examines how piriformis syndrome affects mobility, how sciatic pain correlates with piriformis syndrome, and how therapies like acupuncture can help reduce piriformis syndrome. We talk with certified medical providers who consolidate our patients’ information to provide numerous treatments to minimize piriformis syndrome affecting a person’s mobility. We also inform and guide patients on how treatments like acupuncture can help reduce sciatic nerve pain associated with piriformis syndrome. We encourage our patients to ask their associated medical providers intricated and important questions about the referred pain-like symptoms they are experiencing from piriformis syndrome that is affecting their ability to walk. Dr. Jimenez, D.C., incorporates this information as an academic service. Disclaimer.


Piriformis Syndrome Affecting Mobility

Have you been experiencing muscle tightness in your hips or buttock region, affecting your walking ability? Do you feel sensations of numbness, tingling, or burning pain traveling down to your knees and feet? Or, after a long day of work, do you feel pain when you are sitting down? Most of these symptoms are often correlated with piriformis syndrome. The six surrounding muscles surrounding the gluteal region of the thighs and hips all work together to provide lower body movement while stabilizing the hips and rotating the thighs. The piriformis muscle is a small, flat, pear-shaped muscle that runs on top of the sciatic nerve. Piriformis syndrome is a clinical musculoskeletal condition that causes sciatic nerve entrapment that causes many individuals to report shooting and burning pain down to their buttock region. (Hicks et al., 2024) This causes many people to think they are dealing with low back pain associated with sciatica. When a person is dealing with piriformis syndrome, they will experience limited mobility in their hips, which, over time, if not treated, will affect the thighs and legs. 


How Does Sciatic Nerve Pain correlate with Piriformis Syndrome?


Additionally, since piriformis syndrome is correlated with sciatic nerve pain, some clinical findings causing overlapping risk profiles include restricted external hip rotation and muscle tightness of the lumbosacral muscles. Other clinical findings range from palpatory pain over the greater sciatic notch to aggravated pain in a seated position. (Sharma et al., 2023) Since sciatic nerve entrapment is correlated with piriformis syndrome, it is still regarded as the non-discogenic cause of sciatica. (Son & Lee, 2022) When that sciatic nerve gets trapped within the piriformis muscle, many people will experience numbness, tingling sensations, and similar pain patterns in the legs, just like sciatica; however, when individuals are looking for treatments to reduce the sciatic nerve pain and improve the piriformis muscle.


Acupuncture Therapy Reduces Piriformis Syndrome


When people are looking for treatments to reduce their sciatic nerve pain correlated with piriformis syndrome, they are seeking treatments that are affordable and can reduce the pain through consecutive sessions. Acupuncture therapy can help reduce the effects of piriformis syndrome. Acupuncture is a complementary and alternative therapy from China that uses solid, thin needles to be placed on the acupoints in the body. Additionally, highly trained professionals can incorporate various acupuncture methods to treat and reduce the effects of piriformis syndrome. (He et al., 2023) At the same time, when a person is being treated for piriformis syndrome, an acupuncturist uses ultrasound-guided techniques to allow accurate needle placement within the deep muscles to provide an effective treatment response. (Fusco et al., 2018) This allows the affected surrounding muscles to relax and reduce sciatic nerve pain.


Acupuncture Reducing Sciatic Nerve Pain

Since sciatic nerve pain and piriformis syndrome have overlapping risk profiles, they can also be associated with other musculoskeletal pain conditions that can affect a person’s mobility. Acupuncture can help mitigate the pain signals causing motor or sensory disturbances within the pelvic and hip regions. (Kvorning et al., 2004) Acupuncture is one of the oldest forms of non-surgical therapy that can be combined with other various therapies to help remobilize the hips and decompress the pain affecting the sciatic nerve while providing relief. (Vij et al., 2021) By incorporating acupuncture as part of a person’s health and wellness treatment plan, they will begin to gradually manage the associated symptoms and reduce the chances of piriformis syndrome from returning to cause sciatic nerve pain in the lower extremities. This allows people to be more mindful and help restore the body’s natural healing process over time.

Reclaim Your Mobility- Video


Fusco, P., Di Carlo, S., Scimia, P., Degan, G., Petrucci, E., & Marinangeli, F. (2018). Ultrasound-guided Dry Needling Treatment of Myofascial Trigger Points for Piriformis Syndrome Management: A Case Series. J Chiropr Med, 17(3), 198-200. doi.org/10.1016/j.jcm.2018.04.002

He, Y., Miao, F., Fan, Y., Zhang, F., Yang, P., Zhao, X., Wang, M., He, C., & He, J. (2023). Acupuncture Methods for Piriformis Syndrome: A Protocol for Systematic Review and Network Meta-Analysis. J Pain Res, 16, 2357-2364. doi.org/10.2147/JPR.S417211

Hicks, B. L., Lam, J. C., & Varacallo, M. (2024). Piriformis Syndrome. In StatPearls. www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/28846222

Kvorning, N., Holmberg, C., Grennert, L., Aberg, A., & Akeson, J. (2004). Acupuncture relieves pelvic and low-back pain in late pregnancy. Acta Obstet Gynecol Scand, 83(3), 246-250. doi.org/10.1111/j.0001-6349.2004.0215.x

Sharma, S., Kaur, H., Verma, N., & Adhya, B. (2023). Looking beyond Piriformis Syndrome: Is It Really the Piriformis? Hip Pelvis, 35(1), 1-5. doi.org/10.5371/hp.2023.35.1.1

Son, B. C., & Lee, C. (2022). Piriformis Syndrome (Sciatic Nerve Entrapment) Associated With Type C Sciatic Nerve Variation: A Report of Two Cases and Literature Review. Korean J Neurotrauma, 18(2), 434-443. doi.org/10.13004/kjnt.2022.18.e29

Vij, N., Kiernan, H., Bisht, R., Singleton, I., Cornett, E. M., Kaye, A. D., Imani, F., Varrassi, G., Pourbahri, M., Viswanath, O., & Urits, I. (2021). Surgical and Non-surgical Treatment Options for Piriformis Syndrome: A Literature Review. Anesth Pain Med, 11(1), e112825. doi.org/10.5812/aapm.112825


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Professional Scope of Practice *

The information herein on "Piriformis Syndrome: Is Acupuncture The Answer?" is not intended to replace a one-on-one relationship with a qualified health care professional or licensed physician and is not medical advice. We encourage you to make healthcare decisions based on your research and partnership with a qualified healthcare professional.

Blog Information & Scope Discussions

Our information scope is limited to Chiropractic, musculoskeletal, physical medicines, wellness, contributing etiological viscerosomatic disturbances within clinical presentations, associated somatovisceral reflex clinical dynamics, subluxation complexes, sensitive health issues, and/or functional medicine articles, topics, and discussions.

We provide and present clinical collaboration with specialists from various disciplines. Each specialist is governed by their professional scope of practice and their jurisdiction of licensure. We use functional health & wellness protocols to treat and support care for the injuries or disorders of the musculoskeletal system.

Our videos, posts, topics, subjects, and insights cover clinical matters, issues, and topics that relate to and directly or indirectly support our clinical scope of practice.*

Our office has reasonably attempted to provide supportive citations and has identified the relevant research study or studies supporting our posts. We provide copies of supporting research studies available to regulatory boards and the public upon request.

We understand that we cover matters that require an additional explanation of how it may assist in a particular care plan or treatment protocol; therefore, to further discuss the subject matter above, please feel free to ask Dr. Alex Jimenez, DC, or contact us at 915-850-0900.

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Dr. Alex Jimenez DC, MSACP, RN*, CCST, IFMCP*, CIFM*, ATN*

email: coach@elpasofunctionalmedicine.com

Licensed as a Doctor of Chiropractic (DC) in Texas & New Mexico*
Texas DC License # TX5807, New Mexico DC License # NM-DC2182

Licensed as a Registered Nurse (RN*) in Florida
Florida License RN License # RN9617241 (Control No. 3558029)
License Compact Status: Multi-State License: Authorized to Practice in 40 States*
Presently Matriculated: ICHS: MSN* FNP (Family Nurse Practitioner Program)

Dr. Alex Jimenez DC, MSACP, RN* CIFM*, IFMCP*, ATN*, CCST
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