Inferior gluteal nerve
The inferior gluteal nerve is a branch of the posterior division of the sacral plexus. More specifically, this nerve arises from the posterior divisions of the anterior (ventral) rami of spinal nerves L5, S1 and S2. The inferior gluteal nerve originates in the pelvis and runs through the greater sciatic foramen to emerge in the gluteal region.
The inferior gluteal nerve is primarily a motor nerve. Its main function is to provide motor innervation for the gluteus maximus muscle.
This article will discuss the anatomy and function of the inferior gluteal nerve.
|Origin||Sacral plexus (L5, S1, S2)|
|Branches||Motor branches, communicating branches|
|Supply||Gluteus maximus muscle|
Origin and course
The inferior gluteal nerve originates in the pelvic area from the sacral plexus (root value L5, S1, S2). It branches just proximal to the origin of the sciatic nerve. Upon originating, the inferior gluteal nerve runs anterior to the piriformis muscle. After its short course through the pelvic cavity, the inferior gluteal nerve leaves the pelvis through the inferior part of the greater sciatic foramen (under the piriformis muscle) accompanied by the inferior gluteal artery. The nerve then enters the gluteal region and pierces the deep surface of the gluteus maximus muscle.
The nervous system is a nightmare for many. Try out nervous system quizzes and diagrams and soon you will see there’s nothing to be afraid of!
Branches and innervation
Along its course, the inferior gluteal nerve gives off several small muscular branches that innervate the gluteus maximus muscle.The main function of the gluteus maximus muscle is the extension of the trunk from a forward bending position, and extension of the hip from a sitting to standing position. In addition, the inferior gluteal nerve often gives off a communicating branch to the posterior femoral cutaneous nerve.
Inferior gluteal nerve injury
The most common scenario in which the inferior gluteal nerve gets injured is hip replacement surgery. This iatrogenic injury usually happens during the fixation of the femur that compresses and injures the nerve. Additionally, the nerve can be compressed by a pelvic mass (e.g. cancer or aneurysm) or injured during accidents (e.g. car accidents). The injury of the inferior gluteal nerve results in an impaired leg extension and the lurching gait, secondary to the weakness and atrophy of the gluteus maximus muscle. The muscle weakness is usually combined with pain in the gluteal area.
Inferior gluteal nerve: 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