When Back Pain is a Just a Pain in the Butt!

Back pain is extremely common. Experts suggest that around 80% of the population will experience debilitating back pain at some point in their lives. One of the more ominous signs of serious back pain is the dreaded leg pain often referred to as “Sciatica”. The biggest concern when leg pain is present is a disc herniation, but statistically, disc herniations are not as common as other problems that can cause sciatica. One of the most common problems that can cause low back, gluteal (butt) and leg pain is dysfunction of a muscle known as the piriformis. The piriformis runs deep under the gluteal muscles. Although the piriformis is rather small, it is important because it travels directly over the sciatic nerve. When the piriformis gets tight and/or irritated it can disturb the sciatic nerve causing pain, numbness, tingling and in some cases, weakness down the leg.

Occasionally some people’s sciatic nerve actually travels through the fibers of the piriformis muscle. This is usually due to a developmental anomaly. When this happens, the sciatic nerve is that much more susceptible to getting irritated or pinched. Sometimes it can be difficult to differentiate pain caused by the piriformis. One simple way to tell if your piriformis is causing the problems is to stretch it, which will be shown coming up.

What Causes Tight Piriformis Muscles?

There are a number of factors that can contribute to overly tight piriformis muscles. It could be as simple as forgetting to properly stretch after exercises that involve this area. It could be from poor posture while sitting. With men often times the piriformis gets irritated when sitting on a wallet in the back pocket. Dr. Chad Woolner is a Boise Chiropractor. He finds that a lot of patients’ piriformis problems are a result of a misalignment in their Sacroiliac joint (or pelvis). When the SI joint gets misaligned it can lead to abnormal tension in the piriformis on one or both sides. This is because the piriformis muscle attaches to the SI joint and is directly affected by the alignment of this region.

3 Simple, Yet Effective Steps to Ending the Pain in the Butt

Step 1-Stretching

Stretching the piriformis muscle can help to alleviate a lot of pain and symptoms. In the following video, Dr. Woolner outlines two simple but very effective stretches that you can do at home to help loosen your piriformis muscle. Visit

Step 2-Chiropractic Care

Numerous studies have shown how effective Chiropractic care can be for a wide range of problems. Among those problems that Chiropractic care can help with is problems with the piriformis muscle. As stated earlier, one of the most common causes behind over-tight and/or irritated piriformis muscles is misalignment of the SI joint. If this is one of the factors causing your problem, stretching alone often won’t cut it. Having your SI joint adjusted by a trusted Chiropractic Physician can make all the difference in the world. If you have never been to a Chiropractor or need recommendations you can contact Dr. Woolner’s clinic for recommendations by visiting

Step 3-Magnesium, Nature’s Muscle Relaxer

Oftentimes one cause behind tight muscles is a deficiency in Magnesium. Magnesium is a mineral that is critical for a variety of different processes including proper muscle function. The average person only gets around 250mg from diet alone, this is about 100mg less than the RDA, which many experts agree is still 300-400mg lower than it should be. Supplementing with around 600-700mg of Magnesium per day can help to ease tension on overly tight muscles. Also, eating a diet high in magnesium can also be a good idea. Nuts and grains are good sources of magnesium. Beans, dark green vegetables, fish, and meat also contain significant amounts.

If you’re suffering from problems with your piriformis muscle, or think you might be, these steps are a great place to start. This is the same advice that Dr. Woolner gives to his own patients. Piriformis problems don’t need to be such a pain in the butt.

*This article and image was provided by Dr. Chad Woolner of*