Entry 6 – Sciatica: What’s causing your pain? Piriformis Syndrome

This is the first in post in a short series on sciatica and what might be causing your sciatica symptoms. In this series you will find recommendations for the most common causes. If you have been diagnosed with sciatica please feel free to contact us at the clinic for advice and corrective stretches and exercises for this dysfunction.

Four conditions can create sciatica. We are going to start with condition number one:

Piriformis Syndrome

This the most common cause of sciatic pain and is created when pressure is placed on the sciatic nerve by the piriformis muscle. Muscle imbalances can pull the hip joint and pelvis out of its normal alignment. These imbalances lead to a shortening and tightening of the piriformis muscle, which then places pressure on the sciatic nerve.

As you can see in the image above, the sciatic nerve runs under the piriformis muscle most of the time. However it can also run through or around the piriformis muscle. Whatever the case, muscle imbalances will cause major problems and are the underlying cause of piriformis syndrome.

What is a muscle imbalance?

When a muscle overpowers the opposing muscle you have a muscle imbalance. Think Tug-of-War…!!!

When your muscles are out of balance they pull your bones and joints out of their normal position and this places unwanted stress and pressure on your muscles, fascia, bones and joints.

The image above is an example of excessive curvature in the spine due to muscle imbalances. Forward head and a forward tipped pelvis are just a couple of many problems that can be created by undetected and untreated muscle imbalances.

So what has all this got to do with sciatica?

Here’s a quick analogy between the human body and ….wait for it…your car 🙂

When you drive your car with unbalanced tyres or your steering is out of alignment your tyres will wear down unevenly and quicker than normal…the same can be applied to your body!

It’s extremely important to understand that your body alignment and mechanics are affected by your fascia and muscles and even the smallest ‘kink’ or imbalance can place tremendous amounts of uneven pressure and wear and tear on your body, especially the spine and its supporting muscles.


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