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Surgical and Non-surgical Treatment Options for Piriformis Syndrome: A Literature Review

Anesth Pain Med. 2021 Feb 2;11(1):e112825. doi: 10.5812/aapm.112825. eCollection 2021 Feb.


CONTEXT: Piriformis syndrome is a solely clinical diagnosis that often eludes the practitioner and goes underdiagnosed. PS is a pain syndrome and for those it affects, causes persistent pain and limits daily activity and work capacity. It is a form of deep gluteal syndrome that needs to be considered on the differential of low back pain as it comprises between 0.3% – 6% of all low back pain cases and is frequently underdiagnosed. Piriformis syndrome may be primary due anatomic anomalies or secondary, though the majority of cases are secondary to some insult. The objective of this manuscript is to provide a description of the epidemiology and presentation of piriformis as well as both non-operative and operative treatment options. We review all of the recent clinical evidence regarding the aforementioned therapies.

EVIDENCE ACQUISITION: Literature searches were performed using the below MeSH Terms using Mendeley version 1.19.4. Search fields were varied until further searches revealed no new articles. All articles were screened by title and abstract. Decision was made to include an article based on its relevance and the list of final articles was approved three of the authors. This included reading the entirety of the article. Any question regarding the inclusion of an article was discussed by all authors until an agreement was reached.

RESULTS: Medical management and physical therapy show some promise; however, when conservative treatment fails minimally invasive methods such as steroid injections, botulinum toxin injections, dry needling are all efficacious and there is substantial clinical evidence regarding these therapies. In those patients in which minimally invasive techniques do not result in an adequate relief of pain and return of function, endoscopic release can be considered. Endoscopic release is far superior to open release of the piriformis syndrome given the higher success and lower rate of complications.

CONCLUSIONS: Piriformis syndrome is an important differential diagnosis in the work up of lower back pain and should not be ruled out with proper examination and testing. Clinicians should consider medical management and conservative management in the initial treatment plan for piriformis syndrome. There are many options within the conservative management and the literature shows much promise regarding these. Physical therapy, steroid injections, botulinum toxin injections, and dry needling are all potentially effective therapies with few adverse effects. Surgical options remain as gold standard, but only when conservative management has failed and the symptoms are significant to affect daily living activities. Endoscopic decompression of the sciatic nerve with or without release of the piriformis muscle has a reported high likelihood of success and a low complication rate. Current literature supports the preference of the endoscopic approach over the open approach due to improved outcomes and decreased complications. Further research is to well define the metrics for the diagnosis of piriformis syndrome and may include a need to develop diagnostic criteria.

PMID:34221947 | PMC:PMC8241586 | DOI:10.5812/aapm.112825


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