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Is it Sciatica or Piriformis Syndrome?

Posted on 30/08/2023

Have you ever had a sudden onset of pain in your buttocks, legs and hips that you couldn’t explain? If so, you’ve probably had sciatica. It’s a very painful condition and can even cause numbness and a feeling of weakness in the legs and feet.

Some people can get over sciatica quite quickly, whilst others can struggle with pain and a range of sensations for months!

The sciatic nerves are the longest nerves in the body and travel from your lower back, down each leg and all the way down to your feet.  When there is inflammation around the nerve, pain and change in sensation is probable.

Another problem you might have is actually called Piriformis Syndrome.

 The piriformis is located in a similar region as the sciatic nerves (pelvis/buttocks – hip – thigh). This is shown as the red tissue in the diagram. These muscles can shorten, causing restriction of movement around the hips, as well as pain.

If you sit in a car or at a desk for many hours a day, you are at risk of inflammation of the sciatic nerve and piriformis muscle tissue.

4 Big causes of inflammatory pain in this area are:

1. Lack of movement/stretching

2. Sitting for long periods, and on something that presses against the tissue (e.g. a wallet in a back pocket)

3. Bad posture

4. High levels of stress – as this often changes our posture and tightens muscles.


At Cheltenham Reflexology and Massage we have seen a real increase in the number of our clients complaining of pain through the glutes and down the leg. If the pain is severe and there is a loss of sensation in the foot we recommend seeing a medical professional. For some people, sciatica can become severe and symptoms of loss of sensation around the lower back, back passage and the front of the pelvis needs addressing as soon as possible.

The therapists at Cheltenham Reflexology and Massage are able to work with clients who have ‘standard’ sciatica and we have great success, helping to reduce pain and tension in the muscle tissue and fascia.


How Massage and Reflexology Helps

If you not able to book massage treatments for yourself, you could use the images below to develop your own stretch routine at home.

What you can do yourself


Here’s some stretches to try at home:



Written by Kerry Baxter, Cheltenham Reflexology and Massage and Cheltenham School of Complementary therapy & Beauty.