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Piriformis Syndrome Vs. Sciatica

Piriformis Syndrome and Sciatica sometimes used interchangeably, but are piriformis syndrome and sciatica the same thing?


The piriformis is a small, stabilizing muscle that lies deep within your glutes and plays a critical role in running motion, helping to externally rotate your hips and keep them level, and stabilize your pelvis. It runs from the bottom of your sacrum—where the base of your spine meets your pelvis—to the top of your femur.

“The sciatic nerve passes right by the piriformis muscle and in some cases the sciatic nere runs through the piriformis muscle. When the piriformis contracts or spasms, it can sometimes compress the nerve, resulting in pain. This is what causes piriformis syndrome to occur. Often times it is hard to differentiate between sciatica and piriformis syndrome.

Identifying Piriformis Syndrome Symptoms

Piriformis syndrome can be tricky to diagnose because it can be easily confused for a herniated disc, sciatica, a proximal hamstring strain (also known as high hamstring tendinitis), or a lower back issue. Some of the symptoms of piriformis syndrome include:

  • It is painful to sit. Piriformis syndrome sufferers don’t have constant pain all the time. They will often find the pain flares up while sitting, climbing stairs, and squatting.

  • It's tender. Piriformis syndrome often causes the area to feel tender. Applying pressure can cause discomfort or pain not only at the point of contact but also down your leg.

  • The pain is centered. Piriformis syndrome is usually felt in the middle of your glutes, as opposed to something like a proximal hamstring strain that typically causes non-radiating pain centered at the bottom of your butt, where the hamstrings connect to the pelvis.


The sciatic nerve is the largest single nerve in the human body; it runs from each side of the lower spine through deep in the buttock into the back of the thigh and all the way down to the foot. It serves a vital role in connecting the spinal cord with the leg and foot muscles. This is why when someone has sciatica they feel numbness, burning, and tingling all the way into the foot.

The most common symptom of sciatica is lower back pain that extends through the hip and buttock and down one leg. The pain usually affects only one leg and may get worse when you sit, cough, or sneeze. The leg may also feel numb, weak, or tingly at times. The symptoms of sciatica tend to appear suddenly and can last for days or weeks.


According to Web MD roughly 90% of people recover from sciatica without surgery.


So you may be asking; which one is it piriformis syndrome or sciatica? So it may be difficult to figure out the difference between the two on your own, with the help of diagnostic imaging and an orthopedic examination the process becomes much easier.


At Clarity Chiropractic and Wellness your premier Chandler Chiropractor the doctors are specially trained to find the source of the problem and help to fix it. With their specialized training they have helped thousands of people overcome piriformis syndrome and sciatica and would love to help you. Call now to set up your appointment.




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