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Piriformis Syndrome


Piriformis syndrome is sciatic nerve pain caused by an injured or overused piriformis muscle. This is a muscle inside your buttocks that helps you move your leg. The pain is caused when this muscle pinches your sciatic nerve. You may feel the pain in your hip or down your leg.



You may need any of the following:

  • Prescription medicines may be used to relax your muscles and decrease pain and swelling.
  • NSAIDs help decrease swelling and pain. This medicine is available with or without a doctor's order. NSAIDs can cause stomach bleeding or kidney problems in certain people. If you take blood thinner medicine, always ask your healthcare provider if NSAIDs are safe for you. Always read the medicine label and follow directions.
  • Acetaminophen decreases pain. It is available without a doctor's order. Ask how much to take and how often to take it. Follow directions. Acetaminophen can cause liver damage if not taken correctly.
  • Take your medicine as directed. Call your healthcare provider if you think your medicine is not helping or if you have side effects. Tell him if you are allergic to any medicine. Keep a list of the medicines, vitamins, and herbs you take. Include the amounts, and when and why you take them. Bring the list or the pill bottles to follow-up visits. Carry your medicine list with you in case of an emergency.

Follow up with your healthcare provider as directed:

You may need to return for more tests. You may also be referred to a physical therapist. Write down your questions so you remember to ask them during your visits.

Manage your symptoms of piriformis syndrome:

  • Rest as directed. Avoid activities that make your pain worse.
  • Apply ice to the buttock on your injured side. Use an ice pack, or put crushed ice in a plastic bag. Cover it with a towel. Leave the ice on for 15 to 20 minutes every hour, or as directed. Ice helps prevent tissue damage and decreases swelling and pain.
  • Apply heat to the buttock on your injured side. Use heating pads for 20 to 30 minutes every 2 hours for as many days as directed. Heat helps decrease pain and muscle spasms.
  • Stretch as directed. Lie on your back with your knees bent. Place the ankle of your injured leg on the knee of your other leg. Gently pull your bent leg toward your chest, until you feel a stretch in the buttock of your injured leg. A physical therapist may show you other exercises to stretch and strengthen your hip muscles.

Contact your healthcare provider if:

  • Your pain worsens or returns, even with treatment.
  • You have questions or concerns about your condition or care.

Return to the emergency department if:

  • You cannot move your leg or foot.

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The above information is an educational aid only. It is not intended as medical advice for individual conditions or treatments. Talk to your doctor, nurse or pharmacist before following any medical regimen to see if it is safe and effective for you.