Nerve entrapment syndromes as a cause of pain in the hip, groin and buttock

Sports Med. 1999 Apr;27(4):261-74. doi: 10.2165/00007256-199927040-00005.


In sports medicine, chronic hip, groin and buttock pain is a common diagnostic problem. Because of the complex anatomy of this region and the many potential neurological causes for pain, few sports clinicians have a detailed understanding of this problem. This paper discusses the clinical aspects of nerve entrapment syndromes related to sport and takes a regional approach in order to provide a diagnostic framework for the general sports physician. The various neurological syndromes are discussed and the surgical management elaborated in detail. For some specific conditions, such as the so-called 'piriformis syndrome', the pathophysiological understanding has changed since the early descriptions and now this particular diagnosis is often ascribed to almost any cause of buttock and/or hamstring symptoms. We discuss the nature of the origin of local symptoms and note that the often described symptoms are more likely due to compression of structures other then the sciatic nerve. Furthermore, the role of piriformis hypertrophy or anatomical nerve variations in the genesis of this syndrome must be questioned. We suggest renaming this the 'deep gluteal syndrome' to account for all of the observed phenomena. As sports medicine continues to develop a scientific basis, the role of nerve entrapments as the basis for chronic symptomatology is undergoing a new understanding and clinicians need to be aware of the diagnostic possibilities and be able to advise patients accordingly on the basis of scientific fact not anecdotal fiction.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Buttocks / innervation
  • Groin / innervation
  • Hip / innervation
  • Humans
  • Lumbosacral Region / innervation
  • Nerve Compression Syndromes / complications*
  • Nerve Compression Syndromes / physiopathology
  • Pain / etiology*
  • Pelvic Pain / etiology*