Piriformis syndrome and why can it cause back pain and sciatica

This article about back pain is by the Islington osteoapath from the Angel Osteopathic Clinic. This article covers:

• What is the piriformis muscle
• Where is piriformis
• What does it do
• What is piriformis syndrome


Where is piriformis


Piriformis is a muscle that runs from the hip to the anterior surface of the sacrum at the base of the spine. The main function of this muscle is to externally rotate and extend the hip. When the hip is flexed the piriformis abducts the hip. Piriformis also crosses the sacroiliac joint and this can be significant when there is a problem with the muscle.

In approximately 85% of the population the sciatic nerve passes between the layers of muscle but in a minority the sciatic nerve pierces the muscle.

What is piriformis syndrome

Piriformis syndrome is when the sciatic nerve becomes pinched by the piriformis muscle. This can cause pain in the distribution of the sciatic nerve and produce sciatica as well as causing deep gluteal or buttock pain. This can occur during episodes of back pain when suffering from a slipped disc as well as other symptoms.

• Deep buttock pain
• Pain down the sciatic nerve
• Pain on sitting
• Pain walking down an incline

Women post childbirth or in the lead up to childbirth can also be prone to piriformis syndrome as the muscle helps to maintain the alignment of the sacroiliac joints by contracting. This sustained contraction can lead to fatigue and contraction of the muscle


If you have back pain and/or sciatica or maybe you have buttock pain and you are near Islington osteopathy at the Angel Osteopathic Clinic may help. Click below to make an appointment.

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