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A Sore Case of Piriformis Syndrome

Sciatica, shooting pain down the leg, can be caused by piriformis syndrome. The piriformis is a muscle that crosses over the same passageway as the sciatic nerve. The term "syndrome" means there is a cluster of findings with the problem. In this case, the findings might include pain in the buttocks, pain down the leg, difficulty walking, and pain made worse by stooping or lifting.

Piriformis syndrome is one cause of sciatica, but what causes piriformis syndrome? There are many possible causes reported. Most are based on single cases. The two causes seen on a regular basis are falling on the buttocks and childbirth.

True piriformis syndrome may be caused by injury to the piriformis muscle. Early diagnosis and treatment works best. Treatment consists of physical therapy and antiinflammatory drugs. If left too long, surgery may be needed. After surgery, patients have prompt relief of sciatica. There may be some problems that persist, but most people are able to eventually able to return to work.

When piriformis syndrome doesn't get better with treatment, surgery may be advised. The muscle is released from the bone and allowed to reattach with less tension in the muscle. This is a simple treatment that typically works well for the few people who need it.


Mark R. Foster, PhD, MD. Piriformis Syndrome. In Orthopedics. August 2002. Vol. 25. No. 8. Pp. 811-813.

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*Disclaimer:* The information contained herein is compiled from a variety of sources. It may not be complete or timely. It does not cover all diseases, physical conditions, ailments or treatments. The information should NOT be used in place of visit with your healthcare provider, nor should you disregard the advice of your health care provider because of any information you read in this topic.
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