Piriformis syndrome or deep gluteal syndrome is similar with sciatica. Sciatica is a condition where irritation occurs on the lumbar nerves which originate in the lumbar spine region.  This is usually caused by a herniated intervertebral disc or "discus hernia". The most common lumbar pathology.

In piriformis syndrome (or DGS), compression occurs at the level of the buttock area where the piriformis tendon crosses the sciatic nerve.
The complaints and symptoms are very similar but unfortunately MRI will not show a herniated disc, leaving the patient without diagnosis.

Several so called "Failed back surgical patients" actually suffer from a piriformis syndrome as well.

Since the problem is not well known by surgeons or physiotherapists, most patients keep on complaining for years before finding a resolution.

In my experience, I would conclude that 25-50% of patients with "failed back surgery", actually do suffer from a piriformis syndrome. I helped over hundreds of patients after spinal surgery, still complaining of sciatic pain with a perfect normal spinal MRI. They were decleared "failed back" patients.

If you do have any questions regarding this matter, contact me through mail or through my secretary.

Dieter Mortier, MD
Minimal invasive hip surgery
Piriformis syndrome