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Can Bursitis Cause Sciatica?



While bursitis and sciatica are both neuromuscular conditions that involve pain in the nerves running down the backs of the legs, bursitis is not a direct cause of sciatica.

What Is Bursitis?

Bursitis occurs when the bursa, or sac-like cushion, on the hipbone becomes irritated or inflamed. The symptoms of bursitis include numbness, tingling, and pain in the region including the hip all the way down the leg. It may also include redness or swelling on the skin directly above the affected bursa. The uncomfortable feelings remain relatively localized in the hip area. Bursitis can also occur around other joints such as the knee, ankle, and shoulder, however, when comparing it to sciatica, the focus is on the bursa of the hip.

What Is Sciatica?

While bursitis is described as causing discomfort and numbness, sciatica involves sharper pain that has been compared to pins and needles that runs along the leg and lower back regions. Sciatica occurs as a result of too much pressure on the sciatic nerve, which is the longest nerve in the human body. It is mainly caused by factors such as a slipped or herniated disc, disc degeneration, spinal stenosis, spondylolisthesis, an injury or severe trauma, piriformis syndrome, or pregnancy. A sedentary lifestyle and being overweight can also contribute to sciatica. Unlike bursitis, sciatica is not a condition but more of a symptom.

Bursitis vs Sciatica

Bursitis and sciatica have some similarities as well. They can both limit one’s movement and both often result in pain when movement occurs. Muscle weakness and decreased muscle function can be results as well.



Foye, MD, Patrick M . “Trochanteric Bursitis.” eMedicine. N.p., n.d. Web. 17 Nov. 2010. <>.

“Sciatica –” Mayo Clinic medical information and tools for healthy living – N.p., n.d. Web. 18 Nov. 2010.

“Sciatica – slipped disc or herniation which cause the sciatica symptoms of pain down the back of the leg.” The Virtual Sports Injury Clinic – Sports Injuries, symptoms, diagnosis and treatment.. N.p., n.d. Web. 18 Nov. 2010.

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