Piriformis Syndrome versus Sciatica

Piriformis syndrome occurs when the piriformis muscle, which is located in our buttock region, compresses the sciatic nerve. The piriformis muscle and the sciatic nerve are in close proximity to one another. Due to the contractions or spasms of this muscle, sciatic nerve pain can occur due to the compression or irritation of the sciatic nerve.

Sciatica is a set of symptoms that occur when the sciatic nerve is irritated, inflamed, or compressed. There are numerous conditions that can cause compression or impingement of the nerve roots of the sciatic nerve such as herniated discs, bulging discs, bone spurs, narrowing of the spinal canal, infection and injury to the spine.

The pain experienced during Sciatica depends on the specific nerve root impacted. It can be intermittent or constant but often feels like a sharp pain shooting down the leg to the foot from the lower back. Other symptoms include weakness in the leg and foot, numbness, or tingling.

The main differences between piriformis syndrome versus sciatica are:

Where the pain is typically felt?

  • Piriformis syndrome: buttock and hip pain, sometimes radiating down the leg to the knee (this syndrome does not radiate to the foot)
  • Sciatica: pain may radiate down the leg to the toes

What causes the pain?

  • Piriformis syndrome: the piriformis muscle is causing the pain by impacting the sciatic nerve as it travels through this muscle
  • Sciatica: as discussed above the pain from sciatica can come from a number of different conditions

What can increase the pain?

  • Piriformis syndrome: pain increases while sitting for prolonged periods
  • Sciatica: pain will increase while raising the leg (the one impacted) while lying down

Massage therapy can treat and eliminate piriformis syndrome. It can also help manage pain and decrease muscle spasms associated with Sciatica. If you suspect you may be experiencing one of these conditions, please book online or give us a call at 902-210-8574.