Context: Studies have indicated that the muscle energy technique (MET) and the positional release technique (PRT) are effective in the management of piriformis syndrome (PS); however, evidence is scarce regarding the combination of these techniques in the form of an integrated neuromuscular inhibition technique (INIT) in the management of individuals with PS. Although a previous trial investigated the effect of INIT for PS, that study did not integrate Ruddy’s reciprocal antagonist facilitation (RRAF) method into the INIT protocol, nor did the authors diagnose PS according to established criteria.
Objectives: To examine the effects of INIT with integrated RRAF compared with PRT in the management of patients diagnosed with PS.
Methods: This study was designed as a single blind randomized clinical trial in which participants diagnosed with PS were randomly allocated into INIT and PRT groups. Each group attended two treatment sessions per week for 8 weeks. Patients in the INIT group received a protocol in which the patient’s tender point or trigger point was palpated in the belly of the piriformis approximately halfway between the inferior lateral angle of the sacrum and the greater trochanter, at which point the therapist applied an intermittent or sustained pressure and maintained the pressure for 20–60 seconds (depending on the participant’s response to pain reduction). For INIT patients, that protocol was also followed by RRAF, a method in which a patient introduces a series of tiny/miniature contractions or efforts (20 times per 10 seconds) against a therapist’s resistance. Patients in the PRT group were treated by palpating the same trigger point described in the INIT group, followed by application of light pressure at the location of the trigger point, which was maintained the pressure for 2 minutes or until the pain subsided (determined by asking the participant to report a pain score using a visual analog scale at 30 second intervals). For both groups, three repetitions of the INIT or PRT treatment were performed over 10 minutes at each clinical visit. Additionally, each group also received stretching exercises immediately after the INIT or PRT treatment session. Each participant was assessed at baseline, immediately posttreatment, and at 4 months posttreatment for pain, sciatica, functional mobility, quality of life, hip abduction, and internal rotation. A repeated measures analysis of variance (ANOVA) of within-between group interactions was used to analyze the treatment effect.
Results: Forty eight participants (age range, 25–47 years; mean age ± standard deviation, 32.81 ± 3.27 years) were randomized into the INIT and PRT groups, with 24 participants in each group. No significant between-group differences (p>0.05) were observed in the baseline demographic and clinical variables of the participants. A repeated-measures ANOVA indicated that there was a significant time effect for all outcomes, with a significant interaction between time and intervention (p<0.001). The Bonferroni post hoc analyses of time and intervention effects indicated that the INIT group improved significantly compared with the PRT group in all outcomes (p<0.05) immediately posttreatment and at the 4 months follow up period.
Conclusions: INIT was more effective than PRT in the management of individuals with PS. It should be noted the significant improvement achieved in both the groups may have also been contributed to by the stretching exercises that were used as adjunct therapies by both groups.