They both have similar symptoms. Most commonly patients describe acute tenderness in the back of the glutes, pain down the back of the thigh, calf and foot. Pain when walking upstairs, increased pain after sitting for prolonged periods of time and reduced range of motion.
What is the difference? Both Sciatica and Piriformis Syndrome impinge on the sciatic nerve which then sends the brain the message of pain. Where the sciatic nerve and by what is what the difference is. The sciatic nerve is the largest nerve in the body and is formed by 5 nerve roots from the lower spine and deep in the buttocks and down the back of the thigh and all the way down to the heel. True sciatica is an impingement of the nerve at the spine by things like herniated disks, stenosis of the spine, instability of the vertebra. Piriformis Syndrome is an impingement of the sciatic nerve by a tight Piriformis muscle, which is located under the Glutes. You can test this with the straight leg test. Lay on your back with legs straight. Lift one leg. If the lifting of the leg causes pain in the lifted leg then it most likely is sciatica and you should consult a doctor. If it doesn’t, then good possibility it is Piriformis Syndrome. Piriformis Syndrome is easier to alleviate by loosening the Piriformis muscles. That can be done in several ways. A good massage targeting that muscle and stretches for the hips, laying on a tennis ball pushing on the Piriformis. You will know where to put it, the muscle will be tender and will most likely give you a hurt so good feeling. During a massage I can help loosen the Piriformis and give you some other stretches and suggestions to help alleviate the painful feeling of sciatica.
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