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How to Sleep with Piriformis Syndrome

How to Sleep with Piriformis Syndrome
Shweta Chaubey

The discomfort of Piriformis Syndrome can perturb your sleep and overall quality of life. If you are also familiar with this problem and wondering how to sleep with Piriformis Syndrome, you have landed on the right page. But first things first, let's understand what this condition is and how it affects the quality of your life.

What is Piriformis Syndrome?

It is a condition in which the sciatic nerve gets irritated or compressed by the piriformis muscle, which is located behind the hip joint and buttocks. Piriformis Syndrome can cause numbness, pain, and tingling sensations along the back of the leg, which can travel down to the foot. In several cases, the cause of piriformis syndrome is unknown. However, some common causes of piriformis syndrome may include -

  • Irritated piriformis muscle
  • Hip injury or surgery
  • Abnormalities in and around the piriformis muscle or sciatic nerve
  • Spine conditions such as scoliosis
  • Foot problems such as Morton's neuroma

How to sleep with Piriformis Syndrome

The pain from piriformis syndrome can interfere with your daily life and make sitting or sleeping difficult. Here are a few things you can do to ease the pain and manage the condition -

1. Choosing the right mattress and pillows

Although there is no ideal mattress to relieve piriformis pain, mattresses with medium firmness can help provide adequate support without causing more pressure on the piriformis muscle. Orthopedic pillows and positioning pillows that support the natural curve of your spine can also help with pain relief. These pillows also reduce nerve pain, muscle spasms, and lower back pain.


2. Sleeping positions

Experiment with different sleeping positions to find the right position for you. Many individuals experiencing piriformis pain find relief by sleeping on their back with a pillow under their knees or on their side with a pillow between their legs.

  • Back Sleeping

The best sleeping position for individuals dealing with piriformis syndrome is on your back. It promotes proper alignment of your neck, back, and hips, offering essential support. It also ensures an even distribution of your body weight across the mattress. For more comfortable sleep, place a pillow under your knees, especially if you experience lower back pain.

  • Side Sleeping

The second-best sleeping position for piriformis syndrome is on your side. While side sleeping maintains spinal alignment, there can be tension in the lower back caused by the legs. To counteract this, you can use a pillow or wedge between the knees. It can help prevent hip pain and minimize irritation along the piriformis muscle, providing a more comfortable night's sleep.

  • Reclined Sleeping

If you are more comfortable while sleeping in a forward-bent position rather than an upright stance, reclined sleeping is an excellent option. You can use pillows or a bed wedge to prop up your upper body and sleep comfortably.

  •  Stomach Sleeping

Unfortunately, for stomach sleepers, this position is the least advisable for many spinal conditions, including piriformis syndrome. When lying on your stomach, you are forced to turn your head to one side, causing a misalignment of the spine. Moreover, stomach sleeping prompts your shoulders to hunch forward, exerting significant pressure on the spine. A more supportive sleeping position, such as on your back or side, promotes better spinal health and alleviates discomfort associated with piriformis syndrome.

3. Bedtime rituals

Build a calming bedtime routine to signal your body that it's time to wind down. It can include any of your favorite activities, such as reading a book, practicing piriformis stretches, or taking a warm bath before bed.

4. Piriformis syndrome stretches

Gentle stretching can also help relieve piriformis pain and help you sleep comfortably through the night. Some piriformis stretches include -

  • Supine Piriformis Stretch:

Lie on your back, bend your knees, and place your ankle from the affected side over the opposite knee. Gently pull the unaffected knee towards your chest until you feel a stretch in the buttock.

  • Seated Stretch:

While sitting, cross the affected leg over the other and hug your knee towards your chest.

5. Piriformis syndrome self-care

Piriformis is not a common condition and often does not need any specific treatment plan. The pain associated with it can subside with rest and certain self-care methods. Some pain relief options for piriformis syndrome self-care include -

  • Heat and cold therapy

Apply heat and ice alternatively on your buttocks or legs. Start by wrapping an ice pack in a thin washcloth or towel and keep it on for 15-20 minutes. Followed by a heating pad on low setting for the same time. Do this to curb the pain and reduce inflammation as many times as needed.

  • Over-the-Counter Pain Relief

OTC painkillers such as ibuprofen or acetaminophen may provide temporary relief. You can also use topical analgesics for instant and temporary pain relief.

  • Massage

Massage the hip and buttocks area before going to bed to relieve the pain at night. You can use self-massaging tools or seek professional help to relax the muscles and relieve hip and buttock pain. Many professionals consider massage therapy as a reliable conjunctive treatment plan for physical Therapy.


How to Sit with Piriformis Syndrome

Sitting for long durations makes piriformis pain worse. Choose a chair that provides proper lumbar support and allows you to keep your feet flat on the ground. Consider using a coccyx cushion to reduce pressure on the piriformis muscle. If you have a desk job, make sure to stand and stretch regularly. Do simple piriformis stretches to prevent stiffness and discomfort.

Piriformis Syndrome vs Sciatica

Piriformis syndrome and sciatica are often confused due to their similar symptoms, including lower back pain, buttock pain, and leg pain. However, their underlying causes are quite different. An irritated sciatic nerve or a compressed piriformis muscle causes Piriformis Syndrome. In contrast, sciatica can occur due to various medical conditions, such as spinal stenosis or a pinched nerve root in the lower spine.

Piriformis Syndrome Test

It is important to note that there are no scientifically backed methods to diagnose piriformis syndrome, and research in this area is still ongoing, as stated by an article on Doctors and therapists use a series of physical tests and consider the medical history of their patients to rule out certain conditions. If your doctor suspects that you may have piriformis syndrome, they will likely check the piriformis muscle to see if it is tender.

When to see a doctor

Living with Piriformis Syndrome poses its challenges, but with a combination of proper self-care and the right information, you can improve your quality of life. If the pain does not subside even after trying the above pain relief methods, consider consulting with your doctor.


Disclaimer: All content found on our website, including images, videos, infographics, and text were created solely for informational purposes. Our reviewed content should never be used for the purpose of diagnosis or treatment of any medical conditions. Content shared on our websites is not meant to be used as a substitute for advice from a certified medical professional. Reliance on the information provided on our website as a basis for patient treatment is solely at your own risk. We urge all our customers to always consult a physician or a certified medical professional before trying or using a new medical product.


HPFY Shweta Chaubey

Shweta Chaubey

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Shweta Chaubey, has been a Health Products For You contributor since 2021. An advocate-turned-writer, her desire to create meaningful and positive content has brought her to HPFY and what better than writing ...

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