Piriformis Syndrome

Sciatica is not always caused by ailments in the back such as a bulging disc or bone spur.  Those who suffer sciatica but have no other back pain should consider treatment for piriformis syndrome which originates in the hips.  Although fairly rare studies show that the syndrome is actually responsible for about 1 in 15 sciatica cases.

Piriformis syndrome develops from compression of the sciatic nerve inside or near the piriformis muscle.  About 1 in 5 people are just unlucky in that their sciatic nerve actually runs through this muscle so when it becomes irritated, sciatica pain often follows.

The piriformis connects  the femur to the vertebrae and sits in an opening in the pelvic bone referred to as the sciatic notch.  The opening is quite narrow so it is easy for the nerve to get pinched and cause pain.

A visit to your local chiropractor or sports medicine clinic should help you narrow down the possible causes of your sciatica pain.  While there is no specific test for piriformis syndrome your Doctor will assess the following during your exam which are good indicators you may have it.

  • certain hip rotations create pain
  • you cannot put weight on 1 side of the buttock while seated on a hard surface
  • difficulty performing isometric leg lifts
  • piriformis muscle spasms
  • absence of any back pain or alignment issues

The cause of Piriformis syndrome is not really known.  Many doctors attribute it to sitting for long periods of time, having uneven leg lengths, and even carrying a big wallet in your back pocket.  If you continue to suffer sciatica pain and none of the more common back remedies have helped you you should definitely ask your doctor to evaluate you for Piriformis syndrome.

Stretches to Help with Sciatica