The internal obturator muscle may cause sciatic pain

Pain. 2003 Jul;104(1-2):375-80. doi: 10.1016/s0304-3959(03)00045-9.


Six patients suspected to have piriformis syndrome were operated in the hip region in an attempt to relieve pressure on the sciatic nerve. The piriformis muscle and tendon as well as their relationship to the sciatic nerve were found to be normal. However, the internal obturator muscle was found to be very tense, slightly hyperaemic and pressing the sciatic nerve. During Lasegue's testing on the operating table the internal obturator and not the piriformis muscle impinged on the nerve at an early stage in the hip flexion movement. A sectioning of the tendon to the internal obturator muscle near its insertion at the trochanter was performed. Median pain score was found to be reduced from the preoperative value (8.5) to that at 6 weeks (3.5) (P<0.05) and 3 (3.5) (P<0.05) and 6 months (5.5) (N.S.) postoperatively. No significant reduction of pain was found in a control group of six patients followed during the same period. Three patients who needed opioids preoperatively managed without such drugs 6 months after the operation. Two patients in the operated group were at work 50 and 100% after having been out of work for 3 and 10 years, respectively.

Publication types

  • Clinical Trial
  • Comparative Study
  • Randomized Controlled Trial

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Female
  • Follow-Up Studies
  • Hip Joint / pathology
  • Hip Joint / surgery
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Muscle, Skeletal / pathology
  • Muscle, Skeletal / surgery*
  • Nerve Compression Syndromes / complications
  • Nerve Compression Syndromes / surgery
  • Prospective Studies
  • Sciatic Nerve / pathology
  • Sciatic Nerve / surgery
  • Sciatic Neuropathy / complications
  • Sciatic Neuropathy / surgery
  • Sciatica / etiology
  • Sciatica / surgery*
  • Statistics, Nonparametric
  • Tendons / pathology
  • Tendons / surgery