Piriformis syndrome is a condition in which the piriformis muscle, located in the buttock region, spasms and causes buttock pain.
The piriformis muscle can also irritate the nearby sciatic nerve *and cause pain, numbness and tingling along the back of the leg and into the foot (similar to sciatic pain). The piriformis muscle is a small muscle located deep in the buttock (behind the gluteus maximus).
The sciatic nerve is the largest single nerve in the human body; it runs from each side of the lower spine through deep in the rear and back of the thigh and all the way down to the foot, connecting the spinal cord with the leg and foot muscles.
The sciatica symptoms one feels (nerve pain, numbness, tingling, weakness) tend to be different depending on where the pressure on the sciatic nerve occurs. Sciatica commonly describes the symptoms of pain and possibly numbness or weakness that radiate along the sciatic nerve and tend to be felt in the rear, down the back of the leg and possibly to the foot.
Sciatica is one of the most common forms of pain caused by compression of the spinal nerves in the lower back, and the leg pain is usually much worse than the back pain. In the past people were thought to stretch the gluteus muscle but in fact you should stretch the piriformis muscle.
There is a big difference in function between the two muscles so there is also a big difference in stretching!