Piriforis Syndrome

Overview of Piriforis Syndrome

Piriformis Syndrome (PS) is a rare neuromuscular disorder that causes the pressing of the sciatic nerve due to the action of piriformis muscles. This muscle is located near the hip joint and is responsible for lower body movement, body balance, walking, etc. controlling most of the legs and hips movements. 

The sciatic nerve passes along the piriformis muscle and when compressed due to muscle spasm results in burning and itching pain that travels down. Other associated symptoms of the problem include numbness or tingling sensation in the buttock area. 

The condition is quite painful and can be caused by the injured or irritated muscle that compresses the sciatic nerve. This condition affects more women than men. Piriformis syndrome usually affects one side of the body and is characterized by pain in the buttock area that travels down the leg area.

Signs and Symptoms of Piriforis Syndrome

Major indicators of piriformis syndrome are similar to that of sciatica pain. The pain mostly affects the buttock and hip region and can get worse with hip movements or after sitting for prolonged time periods.

Types of Piriforis Syndrome

Depending upon the cause of disease, piriformis syndrome can be classified into:

  • Primary Piriformis Syndrome: This accounts for less than 15% of the total cases and has an anatomical cause behind it. Anatomical variations such as the splitting of muscle or sciatic vein are more likely to cause it.

  • Secondary Piriformis Syndrome: In contrast, secondary piriformis syndrome is known to be caused by any traumatic or stressful experience. 

Causes of Piriforis Syndrome

Piriformis syndrome is predominantly caused by irritated or injured piriformis muscle due to hyperactivity or inactivity. Here are some important reasons for experiencing this pain. 

  • Excessive physical activity
  • Sitting for longer periods of time
  • Heavy weight lifting
  • Stairs climbing 
  • Repetitive limb movements involving the use of the piriformis muscle
  • Accidental injury
  • Falling damage
  • Sports Injury
  • Hip twisting
  • Wound penetration that goes directly to muscle

Risk Factors of Piriforis Syndrome

Some important risk factors for Piriformis syndrome include: 

Obesity: If you are overweight then you have an increased risk of suffering from piriformis syndrome. 

Sedentary Lifestyle: If you have a sedentary lifestyle it also increases your risk of suffering from piriformis syndrome. 

Prolonged Sitting: Your work nature especially if it requires sitting for prolonged hours also impacts your risk of piriformis syndrome.

Smoking: Habits like smoking also increase your chances of suffering from piriformis syndrome. 

Physical Activity: When you don’t do enough physical activity, this definitely increases your chances of piriformis syndrome.



The problem arises when your piriformis muscle gets damaged. For this, you need to be careful while doing activities that involve the piriformis muscles. Some of the tips you can rely upon include:

  • Warm up before any physical activity
  • Take sitting breaks if you have a desk job
  • Don’t walk or run on uneven surfaces
  • Practice good posture        


Piriformis diagnosis can be tricky because disease symptoms overlap with other problems such as disc inflammation or other pelvic problems. However, piriformis syndrome’s diagnosis may include:

Physical Exam: In case you experience any signs and symptoms of piriformis disorder, your physician simply goes for a physical examination. This examination involves figuring out painful movements. Inquiring your family history is also an important component of this examination. 

Image Testing: Some of the common image tests used for the diagnosis of piriformis syndrome include MRI and CT scans. If you can confirm the cause of pain, your physician may further go for a muscle ultrasound. 

Treatment of Piriforis Syndrome | When to Consult a Doctor

Depending upon the severity of the pain, your doctor may come up with the following treatment options. 


When your pain becomes uncontrollable, many painkillers can come as a suitable treatment option for pain relief.  Other than anti-inflammatory medications, muscle relaxants may reduce the pain.  

Physical Therapy

Your physician may recommend physical therapy to you. Different stretches performed during physical activity can be quite helpful in pain relief. 


In severe cases, when medication and physical therapy is not so effective, then surgery comes as a final option. Surgery can decompress the nerve causing pain.