Piriformis Syndrome: A Narrative Review of the Anatomy, Diagnosis, and Treatment

PM R. 2019 Aug:11 Suppl 1:S54-S63. doi: 10.1002/pmrj.12189. Epub 2019 Jul 22.


Piriformis syndrome is a form of sciatica caused by compression of the sciatic nerve by the piriformis muscle. It is a relatively uncommon, but not insignificant, cause of sciatica. The diagnosis of piriformis syndrome is complicated by the large differential diagnosis of low back and buttock pain with many diagnoses having overlapping symptoms. This narrative review highlights the relevant anatomy, history, physical exam maneuvers, electrodiagnostic findings, and imaging findings that are used to diagnose piriformis syndrome. Also discussed are posterior gluteal myofascial pain syndromes that mimic piriformis syndrome. The review then outlines the different treatment options for piriformis syndrome including conservative treatment, injections, and surgical treatment. In addition, it provides the reader with a clinical framework to better understand and treat the complex, and often misunderstood, diagnosis of piriformis syndrome.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Humans
  • Piriformis Muscle Syndrome / diagnosis*
  • Piriformis Muscle Syndrome / etiology
  • Piriformis Muscle Syndrome / therapy*