The piriformis muscle syndrome: a simple diagnostic maneuver.
Current maneuvers to diagnose the piriformis syndrome are less than ideal. Freiberg's maneuver of forceful internal rotation of the extended thigh elicits buttock pain by stretching the piriformis muscle, and Pace's maneuver elicits pain by having the patient abduct the legs in the seated position, which causes a contraction of the piriformis muscle. This report describes a maneuver performed by the patient lying with the painful side up, the painful leg flexed, and the knee resting on the table. Buttock pain is produced when the patient lifts and holds the knee several inches off the table. The maneuver produced deep buttock pain in three patients with piriformis syndrome. In 100 consecutive patients with surgically documented herniated lumbar discs, the maneuver often produced lumbar and leg pain but not deep buttock pain. In 27 patients with primary hip abnormalities, pain was often produced in the trochanteric area but not in the buttock. The maneuver described in this report was helpful in diagnosing the piriformis syndrome. It relies on contraction of the muscle, rather than stretching, which the author believes better reproduces the actual syndrome.
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