piriformis musclePiriformis muscle syndrome is a common condition whose symptoms are often mistaken with a lumbar herniated disc or spinal stenosis lumbar.  The symptoms of piriformis muscle syndrome include pain in the buttocks and sciatic nerve pain.

The piriformis is a small muscle deep in the buttocks that runs from the tailbone to the hip.  The piriformis is situated adjacent to the sciatic nerve and its branches and functions to rotate the hip outward. 

Injury or irritation of the piriformis muscle will result in the muscle contracting, increasing its diameter substantially.  An increase in the diameter of the piriformis can cause the sciatic nerve to become inflamed and irritated resulting in sciatica nerve pain.

Because of irritation of the sciatic nerve and resultant nerve pain, piriformis syndrome is often overlooked as the source of a patient’s symptoms.  Instead a diagnosis is made solely on diagnostic imaging studies such as MRI or CT scan.  These studies will usually show evidence of a herniated disc or spinal stenosis and, incorrectly, attributed to the patient’s symptoms.  This type of misdiagnosis is common and makes treating the true cause of the sciatica symptoms difficult. 

In summary, piriformis syndrome will often produce symptoms of sciatica nerve pain.  These symptoms are often misdiagnosed as a herniated disc or spinal stenosis based on the results of diagnostic imaging.  As a result, potentially ineffective and unnecessary treatment, including surgery, is recommended when the problem could have efficiently been treated by addressing the source of the symptoms, namely the piriformis muscle.

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