Piriformis syndrome occurs when your piriformis muscle spasms and aggravates your sciatic nerve. Our video walk-through can help you better understand this common, and often painful, condition.

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Piriformis syndrome often provokes symptoms similar to sciatica. Watch: Piriformis Syndrome Video

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Video highlights

Your piriformis muscle (pictured above in purple) is located behind your gluteus maximus muscle (displayed in pink). Your piriformis muscle runs from the upper surface of your femur to your lower spine, and it helps you turn your leg and foot outward.

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Your large sciatic nerve runs underneath or through your piriformis muscle.

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Below is an expanded view of the piriformis muscle and sciatic nerve (pictured in yellow), and you can clearly see how closely they are situated to each other.

The symptoms of piriformis syndrome are similar to sciatica. But unlike sciatica, piriformis syndrome is not caused by a spinal problem.

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Causes of piriformis syndrome

Your piriformis muscle can tighten, swell, or spasm as a result of either overuse, injury, or strain.

A problem with your surrounding joints, such as with the sacroiliac joints (shown above), can also cause piriformis syndrome. It may also result from activities that involve the repetitive forward movement of your legs.

See Sacroiliac Joint Dysfunction (SI Joint Pain)

Symptoms of piriformis syndrome

Tenderness and pain in your buttocks area that is also accompanied by sciatica-like pain, numbness, and weakness that runs down your leg are common symptoms of piriformis syndrome. These symptoms are often worse when climbing stairs, after sitting for an extended period of time, or while walking or running.

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Treatment options for piriformis syndrome include heat and ice therapy, non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAID's), injections, and electrotherapy.

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Piriformis syndrome is easily confused with other lumbar spine conditions, so it's imperative you receive a proper diagnosis before beginning any type of treatment plan.

Learn more:

Piriformis Muscle Stretch and Physical Therapy

Sciatica Exercises for Sciatica Pain Relief