The superior and inferior gluteal nerves are motor nerves arising from the sacral plexus, which is formed by the anterior (ventral) rami of spinal nerves L4-S4. The superior gluteal nerve arises from the posterior (dorsal) division of anterior rami L4-S1, while the inferior gluteal nerve originates from the posterior division of anterior rami L5-S2.
The gluteal nerves arise in the lumbosacral region. Both of them exit the pelvis through the greater sciatic foramen and pass the piriformis muscle, with the superior gluteal nerve passing over, and the inferior gluteal nerve passing under the muscle. After leaving the pelvis, they terminate by giving off branches to innervate the gluteal muscles.
This article will discuss the anatomy and function of the gluteal nerves.
|Origin||Sacral plexus (L4–S1)|
|Branches||Superior, inferior branches|
|Supply||Gluteus medius muscle, gluteus minimus muscle, and tensor fasciae latae muscle|
|Origin||Sacral plexus (L5–S2)|
|Branches||Branches for gluteus maximus muscle|
|Supply||Gluteus maximus muscle|
- Superior gluteal nerve
- Inferior gluteal nerve
- Clinical relations
Superior gluteal nerve
The superior gluteal nerve is a motor branch of the sacral plexus that arises from the posterior divisions of the L4, L5, and S1 anterior roots. On its way, it passes through the greater sciatic foramen accompanied by the superior gluteal artery and vein. The superior gluteal nerve and vessels pass superiorly to the piriformis muscle, after which the nerve divides into its superior and inferior branches.
Continue learning and testing your knowledge of the superior and inferior gluteal nerves with Kenhub application! Try it out and make your anatomy information more accessible!
Inferior gluteal nerve
The inferior gluteal nerve is also a motor branch of the sacral plexus, arising from the posterior divisions of the L5, S1, and S2 anterior roots. It courses inferiorly and exits the pelvic cavity via the greater sciatic foramen while passing inferiorly to the piriformis muscle.
The inferior gluteal nerve terminates by providing branches for the motor innervation of the gluteus maximus muscle.
Take the following quiz to test and reinforce your knowledge about the sacral plexus:
Superior gluteal nerve entrapment syndrome
Superior gluteal nerve entrapment syndrome is a rare clinical condition caused by the impingement of the superior gluteal nerve between the piriformis and gluteus medius muscle. This syndrome is sometimes termed “pseudo-sciatica”, because it can be misdiagnosed as sciatica, mimicking a herniated disc. The patient may feel pain or tenderness in the gluteal region, as well as weakness of abduction of the affected hip with a waddling gait.
The treatment of entrapment syndrome is usually with a local anesthetic or steroid injection. If the pain returns, it is treated by performing neuroablation, a minimally invasive procedure in which the superior gluteal nerve is destroyed with radio waves resulting in the relief of symptoms.
Gluteal nerves: want to learn more about it?
Our engaging videos, interactive quizzes, in-depth articles and HD atlas are here to get you top results faster.
What do you prefer to learn with?
“I would honestly say that Kenhub cut my study time in half.”
Kim Bengochea, Regis University, Denver