Piriformis Syndrome - Understanding the Pain

Understanding Piriformis Syndrome Pain

Sore Piriformis syndrome is a real problem that a lot of people have. It can be caused by sitting with your wallet in your back pocket, and anyone who's ever spent too much time sitting at their desk job can probably relate! Also known as "wallet syndrome," it's one of the most common causes of Sciatica - a deep, sharp pain that can shoot down one leg. You're probably thinking, does my doctor know about this? Read on to learn more about preventing and treating your sore piriformis!!!

What is Piriformis Syndrome?

Piriformis syndrome is an uncommon neuromuscular disorder that often results in sciatic nerve irritation. The piriformis is a small muscle situated deep in the upper buttocks that runs between the hip joint (femur) and the lower back at a diagonal. This muscle is essential to our mobility because it stabilizes the hip and allows the thigh to rotate externally and to the side (abduction).

Without piriformis weakness or pain, completing daily weight-bearing tasks and shifting weight can become challenging due to a lack of stability. When suffering from piriformis symptoms, people are advised to see their medical providers immediately for evaluation and treatment because this condition needs early intervention for a better outlook on recovery.

The piriformis muscle rests beneath the gluteus medius and minimus muscles on either side of the buttocks. These muscle spasms can press on the sciatic nerve that runs directly beneath it, causing Piriformis Syndrome.

The typical symptoms of this condition include back pain and radiating leg pain (commonly described as a 'pins and needles sensation) that can spread from the lower back down to the toes and cause numbness in areas around where the sciatica type pain is experienced. Piriformis syndrome caused by compression of both sides of the sciatic nerve (known as bilateral piriformis syndrome) is even rarer than unilateral conditions!

Piriformis Syndrome vs. Sciatica

When the piriformis muscle (which is not a muscle but rather an important ligament that runs along the sciatic nerve) stretches or becomes overused in some individuals, it can press down on this very nerve in the following manner. It leads to 'sciatic pain' that starts in the buttocks and travels along its neural pathway. Note, however, that not all such persons are subject to said 'sciatic pain' because there is no pre-requisite need for the sciatic nerve to pass through/throughout said piriformis. This way, much like, only seventeen percent of organizations are built using piriformis due to their inherent risks. Other people can experience more intense levels of 'sciatic pain' if they have the said conditions (high-risk factors).

Piriformis Syndrome Causes and Risk Factors

Piriformis muscle syndrome occurs when this muscle spasms and becomes excessively tight. Because we use this muscle daily—when walking, running, or even rotating the lower body—it can easily get injured with poor biomechanics or repetitive overuse.

You may experience a spasm in the piriformis muscle due to:

  • Lifting heavy items
  • Irritation of local joints, such as the hips or the sacroiliac joint (SI)
  • Repeatedly climbing stairs or other inclines
  • Long periods of inactivity
  • Too much exercise results in overuse of the muscle

Symptoms of Piriformis Syndrome from Pregnancy

The symptoms of piriformis syndrome vary from person to person. The most common symptom is buttocks pain radiating down the back of the leg. The pain may be sharp, dull, or aching. It may be worse when you sit, stand up, or walk. Other symptoms may include:

  • Numbness or tingling in the leg
  • Weakness in the leg
  • Difficulty walking
  • Pain that is worse at night

When pregnant, one might notice pain around the lower back or hips. The pain could even feel like it's running down the backside of their legs. It is due to many factors: your growing baby, nutrients and additional weight on what is usually an unused portion of her body, etc. 

One possible cause for these aches could be Sciatica. Not only this, it can be treated by close monitoring of your symptoms and scheduling an appointment with our office to better understand a complete diagnosis through an X-ray or MRI scan, if this also includes numbness or extreme tingling.

Piriformis Syndrome from Running

The piriformis muscle functions to help provide stability and strength when running. With all the wear and tear that comes with running, many runners find that they can end up with a syndrome called Sciatica--and it's no walk in the park. The most common way runners experience discomfort is when they sit down after a run (amazingly, many times, people don't even notice the pain until they've already sat down!). It would be best if runners knew how to recognize this syndrome to avoid further injury by using a Versatile herbal heating pad properly for treatment or finding a therapist who can suggest alternative exercises for anyone who gets their workout fix through running!

Piriformis Syndrome Symptoms

Piriformis syndrome doesn't have several symptoms by itself. Instead, it irritates the sciatic nerve, which causes various symptoms, including:

  • Difficulty finding a comfortable way to sit
  • Low back pain
  • Shooting buttock pain that can also travel down the back of the thigh
  • Leg pain
  • Numbness or tingling in the butt or back of the leg
  • Tingling
  • Tenderness of the piriformis muscle (deep in the glutes)

Piriformis Syndrome Diagnosis

Sometimes, pain or numbness can start to take over your life. I'm talking about the persistent discomfort that makes waking up every morning a chore and keeps you from doing all the other beautiful things like taking a vacation or even sitting down for a friendly chat with that good friend. You've taken it upon yourself to do some research and have ascertained that Piriformis Syndrome must be causing all these problems by pinching the sciatic nerve, which connects your spinal cord to its target muscles. Sure, there's no way to prove it, but at least you know what you have going on!

Now it's time to execute some actionable steps demonstrating your willingness to get well. See your doctor immediately while they're still available, then describe to them precisely how severe this sensation is so they can write you an effective prescription fast because recovery starts with each day we're alive.

Treating and Preventing Piriformis Syndrome

The treatment for piriformis syndrome depends on the severity of the symptoms. In most cases, the pain will go away within a few weeks. However, there are a number of things you can do to help relieve the pain and improve your recovery, such as:

  • Rest: Resting the piriformis muscle can help to reduce pain and inflammation.
  • Ice: Applying ice to the buttocks can help to reduce pain and inflammation.
  • Heat: Applying heat to the buttocks can help to relax the muscles and relieve pain.
  • Over-the-counter pain relievers: Over-the-counter pain relievers, such as ibuprofen or acetaminophen, can help relieve pain and inflammation.
  • Stretching: Stretching the piriformis muscle can help to improve flexibility and reduce pain.
  • Strength training: Strength training exercises can help to strengthen the muscles in the lower back and buttocks and reduce the risk of future pain.
  • Physical therapy: Physical therapy can help to relieve pain, improve flexibility, and strengthen the muscles in the lower back.

Warm-up first! Piriformis syndrome can be exasperated by engaging in activities without adequately warming up beforehand or during the activity itself. Massage -  do it yourself or visit an expert in the field. Treatments like physical therapy and corticosteroid injections might also be needed if things worsen over time.


A common cause of Sciatica is piriformis syndrome - but fortunately, it's not the only distinct possibility. Knowing what this syndrome entails can help you prevent Sciatica and other back pain from ever occurring in the first place. Discuss your experiences with the qualified medical staff at a sports medicine clinic or physical therapy office so they can clarify any nuances regarding your pain or recommend a treatment plan that will bring you great relief!

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