Piriformis syndrome is related to sciatica because it involves muscles that irritate the sciatic nerve, according to Spine-Health.com. The piriformis muscle is found in the buttocks, and when it compresses the sciatic nerve, it causes pain in the buttocks that shoots down the back of the thigh to the foot.
Piriformis syndrome also causes tingling and numbness down the back of the leg as well, claims Spine-Health.com. The symptoms become worse when a person sits, climbs stairs or steep slopes and are relieved when the person lies on his back.
Interestingly, in most people, the sciatic nerve runs beneath the piriformis muscle, according to Spine-Health.com. But in a certain percentage of people, the nerve runs right through the muscle. These people might be more at risk for piriformis syndrome.
There is no one test for piriformis syndrome, and a physician makes a diagnosis on the basis of a patient's complaints combined with X-rays, MRIs and other tests, according to Spine-Health.com. These tests also rule out other causes of the pain.
Piriformis syndrome often responds to conservative treatment such as rest and the application of heat and cold, states WebMD. Anti-inflammatory drugs and the injection of steroids and even botulinin toxin have been known to bring relief. A therapy that uses a mild electrical current, or iontophoresis also helps.