Piriformis syndrome is a nerve and muscle disorder that is caused when the piriformis muscle presses on the sciatic nerve. The piriformis muscle is on the buttocks near the top of the hip. This muscle is very important in moving our lower body when walking. In this condition the piriformis muscle presses against the sciatic nerve causing the nerve to send an inappropriate signal telling the piriformis to constantly be tightening. Symptoms usually start with pain, tingling, and numbness of the buttocks. This pain can spread down the length of the leg. The pain worsens when the muscle is used, for example while doing things such as sitting or running.
There is no specific test to diagnose piriformis syndrome, but it often affects people who are involved in activities like long distance running or sitting most of the day. Diagnosis of this syndrome is made by a physical exam that involves doing certain motions to see if there is pain. Also, MRI tests may be given to look at the nerves and muscles.
Treatment is different based on each case but most health care professionals advise avoiding activities that trigger pain. Also, rest, ice and heat may help make symptoms better. If you or a family member has been diagnosed with piriformis syndrome, talk with your doctor about the most current treatment options. Support groups are also good resources for support and information.
Description Last Updated: Jan 27, 2018