Understanding Piriformis Syndrome and Alleviating Gluteal Pain

Experiencing pain in the buttock and leg can be a troublesome issue for many individuals. While conditions such as slipped discs or spinal degeneration are commonly associated with these symptoms, there’s another condition that closely mimics disc-related pain. This condition is known as Piriformis syndrome. In this article, we’ll delve into what Piriformis syndrome is, its symptoms, and effective treatment options to alleviate gluteal pain.

What is Piriformis Syndrome?

Piriformis syndrome involves the irritation of the Piriformis muscle, which subsequently causes pain in the sciatic nerve. The Piriformis muscle is a relatively small muscle located behind the hip joint, responsible for hip stabilization. However, it shares a close relationship with the sciatic nerve, the largest nerve in the body, which supplies the lower leg. In some cases, the sciatic nerve and the Piriformis muscle or tendon may have an unusual relationship, where they cross or even pierce each other.

Causes and Symptoms of Piriformis Syndrome

Piriformis Syndrome can occur when the muscle becomes irritated due to abnormal mechanical loading of the back pelvis or hip. This irritation can lead to swelling, reducing blood flow to the nerve and resulting in sciatic nerve pain. It’s important to rule out more serious conditions like slipped discs through a proper examination and possibly an MRI scan. However, several signs can help identify Piriformis syndrome, including:

  1. Intermittent and Changeable Pain: Pain associated with Piriformis syndrome often fluctuates, with some individuals experiencing pain solely in the buttock while others may feel it radiating down the leg.
  2. Eased with Gentle Activity: Engaging in gentle activities that increase blood flow to the sciatic nerve can provide relief for individuals with Piriformis syndrome.
  3. Deep Tenderness in the Buttock: Pressing the buttock area may reveal deep tenderness, potentially leading to pain shooting down the leg.


Treatment for Piriformis Syndrome

Once Piriformis Syndrome is identified, the good news is that it generally responds well to treatment. The first step is to determine the underlying cause, which can originate from the back, pelvis, hip, or even external factors such as sitting with a large wallet or phone in the back pocket for extended periods. The following treatment options are commonly recommended:

  1. Targeted Therapy: Deep massage and stretching exercises targeting the Piriformis muscle can help alleviate symptoms and reduce inflammation.
  2. Addressing Underlying Issues: Treating any mechanical issues in the back, pelvis, or hip through appropriate interventions can provide long-term relief.
  3. Lifestyle Adjustments: Making small changes, such as avoiding sitting with a large wallet or phone in the back pocket, can help prevent aggravation of symptoms.


Piriformis Syndrome can be a significant source of gluteal pain and leg discomfort, often mimicking disc-related conditions. By understanding the causes and symptoms associated with this condition, individuals can seek appropriate treatment options to alleviate their pain.

If you suspect you have Piriformis syndrome, it is advisable to consult with a healthcare professional to receive a proper diagnosis and develop an effective treatment plan.

For more information and assistance with sciatica, back pain, and related conditions, visit our website at www.sussexbackpainclinic.co.uk. You can also reach out to us via email at info@sussexbackpainclinic.co.uk or call our reception at 01273 725667 to schedule an initial appointment with our dedicated team of Osteopaths.


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