Bursitis Symptoms Vs Sciatica

Bursitis and sciatica are two neuromuscular conditions that can affect the nerves that run down the back of the legs. While the two conditions have similar symptoms, they have different causes.

Bursitis Symptoms

Bursitis symptoms include localized tenderness in the buttocks area, tingling and numbness that can run down the leg and pain while sitting.

Causes of Bursitis

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Bursitis is caused by the inflammation or irritation of bursa, located on the hip bone. A bursa is a sac-filled cushion that helps the fluid movement of joints, such as the hip joint. As the joint moves, it irritates the muscle and tendons surrounding the bursa, creating pain and discomfort.

Sciatica Symptoms

Sciatica symptoms include discomfort due to pressure placed upon the sciatic nerve, which run down the legs. Sciatica consists of severe pain in the lower back region, radiating down the one of the legs, numbness and tingling in the leg, muscular weakness and a feeling of pins and needles.

Causes of Sciatica

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Sciatica is caused by pressure applied to the sciatic nerve through compression or irritation to the nerve and is generally caused by a spinal dysfunction. Sciatica can be caused by a bulging or herniated disk in the lumber-sacral region of the spine, spinal stenosis (narrowing of the nerve cavity in the spine), piriformis syndrome (muscle compression on the nerve), trigger points and pregnancy.

Is it Buritis or Sciatica?

Often bursitis is mistaken for sciatica, as both conditions have similar symptoms. However, sciatica will often be associated with pins and needles in the leg and lower back pain, while bursitis tends to affect only the hip area. Sciatica is a symptom of a greater condition, while bursitis is a localized condition.


A physician will need to check out thoroughly the areas of pain and discomfort. Most patients will need a MRI to determine the cause of the pain, particularly with sciatica. Only an MRI will determine if the pain is sciatica, by exposing the lumbar sacral region. Since bursitis is a localized pain, a trip to the doctor may be all that an individual needs to seek treatment.