Piriformis Syndrome Vs. Sciatica

Piriformis Syndrome vs. Sciatica

Two very common causes of low back and hip pain are piriformis syndrome and sciatica, and these conditions can be especially common throughout pregnancy. While most people have heard of these two conditions, it is common to get them confused. Below I will provide a brief description of each condition, ways to prevent them from occurring and ways to provide relief!


Piriformis Syndrome

The piriformis is an important stabilization muscle of the hip. It originates on the sacrum {tailbone} and ends on the femur. It is a small but very important muscle and often due to faulty mechanics, gets irritated and inflamed. Piriformis syndrome is the result of an inflamed piriformis muscle which presses on the sciatic nerve. This can cause localized pain as well as pain that radiates down the leg. Because of this type of pain, many people mistake piriformis syndrome for sciatica.

Faulty muscle firing patterns and repetitive motions tend to cause inflammation of the piriformis. Around 20% of people have a condition where the sciatic nerve actually pierces through the piriformis muscle, predisposing them to piriformis syndrome.

When sciatic pain is caused by piriformis syndrome, the best course of treatment is to use corrective exercises to restore proper balance to the pelvic muscles. Seek out a Chiropractor, Personal Trainer or Therapist in your area well versed in corrective and functional exercises. They will be able to provide a functional analysis to assess areas of dysfunction and get the muscles of the body working together in balance! I recommend seeking practitioners versed in FMS {functional movement systems}, SFMA {selective functional movement assessments} or CES {corrective exercise specialists}. Many Chiropractic programs incorporate this type of training into their professional programs.

I do not normally recommend stretching to those experiencing this type of pain. Stretching can cause excess motion and stress to the area, and does not address the faulty patterns in the pelvis. If relief is needed temporarily, foam rolling can provide relief {only a few swipes over the area is needed!}



Sciatica involves inflammation of the sciatic nerve. The sciatic nerve originates just above the gluteal muscles at the L4-L5 vertebrae in the low back and travels down the back of the leg, right in the area where people complain of “sciatic like” pain. When there is inflammation, pain radiates down the pack of the leg and typically ends at the knee but can travel all the way down to the calf.

The sciatic nerve can be irritated by a bulge in the disc of the L4-L5 vertebra and can commonly be caused in pregnancy by pressure of the uterus on the sciatic nerve. {All the more reason to seek Chiropractic care during pregnancy and maintain proper alignment and function of the pelvis!} Sciatic pain is usually due to deeper dysfunction, rather than piriformis syndrome.

Sciatic pain is usually made worse by bending the low back forward, sending the shooting pain down the back of the leg. It is important if one has this type of pain, to get evaluated by a medical professional who can determine if the pain is from a disc bulge or other pathologies.

Like with piriformis syndrome, it is important to correct biomechanics and reduce inflammation to allow the condition to resolve. Rest/Recovery is crucial to recover from any condition resulting from inflammation, some time off may provide the relief needed!

Contact your healthcare provider today to get on your journey to relief from these nagging pains that are so common. These conditions are very common, especially in pregnancy, and are usually very treatable.

Feel free to contact me with any questions at: abby.kramer23@gmail.com


Dr. Abby Kramer


Be Optimal Holistic Health Center
1249 Waukegan Rd
Glenview, IL 60025
T: 847.486.8000
F: 847.486.8800


Monday Training


Warm-Up / Activations

10- 20 of each; General Warm Up

3 X 10 Good Mornings

*For extra work, intensity you can do banded or barbell Good Mornings.

3 X 10 Air Squats

 Accumulate 20 Box Lower Downs on Each Leg.



Strength Focus

12 x 2 Conventional Stance Box Squats

*Rest 60s between efforts.



Stamina / Cardio


Complete 5 Rounds for time:

20 Alternating Box Step Ups

10 Push Press

200m Run

Possible Options

Pick a height for box step ups in which you can do comfortably and without hiking/shifting your hips.

Pick a weight for the Push Press that you can do all 10 in a row.

Run can always be a walk.

Rest as needed.


Mindset Training

Posture Awareness.

Find a peaceful song that you can practice breathing along with.


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