Piriformis Syndrome - Avoid Pain Meds

What is Piriformis Syndrome?

Piriformis syndrome is the phenomenon that occurs when the piriformis muscle becomes inflamed which then pinches on the sciatic nerve. The sciatic nerve is the longest nerve in the body and exits out of the lumbar spine (lower back) before it travels down the back of the leg, calves, and into the foot. 

The statistics vary, but a small percentage of the population will anatomically show the sciatic nerve running through the piriformis muscle. It is thought this anatomical variation can lead to an increased possibility of experiencing piriformis syndrome. However, people without this variation can experience piriformis syndrome pain if the muscle becomes inflamed, thus pinching the sciatic nerve. 

What are the Symptoms of Piriformis Syndrome?

When a nerve becomes inflamed, or pinched, it starts to cause symptoms of;

  • Tingling
  • Numbness
  • Burning
  • Weakness


Weakness is a sign that the nerve is being pinched severely. If you’re experiencing weakness please see a health professional immediately as this can lead to permanent nerve damage.


The symptoms can be felt anywhere along the back portion of your buttock, upper leg, calve, or foot. It is not required to have symptoms in all of these areas. Some people will experience symptoms in the buttock while others will only feel it into the feet. 


Some people will complain of symptoms that are similar to lumbar radiculopathy, a herniated disc, degenerative disc disease, spinal stenosis, or a pinched sciatic nerve. 

How to Heal Piriformis Syndrome?

Many people with piriformis syndrome will present with multiple problems. These could be;

  • Spine and/or hip stiffness
  • Spine and/or hip weakness
  • Balance deficits 

In our experience, most people with piriformis syndrome will present with limited hip rotational flexibility and spine extension (bending backward), and spine side bending towards the affected side. 

Nerve Tension Testing

The sciatic nerve can become tight, or threatened when it is asked to stretch. If you feel moderate to severe hamstring tightness this could be the problem. There are simple stretches, instrument assisted soft tissue mobilization, and myofascial release will correct this problem. 

Piriformis Syndrome Treatment

We have done our best to outline piriformis syndrome in this blog post. Piriformis syndrome treatment will not be as effective unless you look at the entire body for possible factors leading to the symptoms. Typically, there are multiple areas that need to be addressed.

Physical Therapy for Piriformis Syndrome 

If you live in or near Durham, NC then our physical therapy clinic would love to help you get out of pain, avoid surgery, and get back to being active again! Right now we offer a free phone consultation that will help you identify if we’re a good fit for your problem. Schedule your free phone consultation today!

Medical Disclaimer:

All information on this website is intended for instruction and informational purposes only. The authors are not responsible for any harm or injury that may result. Significant injury risk is possible if you do not follow due diligence and seek suitable professional advice about your injury. No guarantees of specific results are expressly made or implied on this website.