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Differential movement of the sciatic nerve and hamstrings during the straight leg raise with ankle dorsiflexion: Implications for diagnosis of neural aspect to hamstring disorders

Elena Bueno-Gracia, Albert Pérez-Bellmunt, Elena Estébanez-de-Miguel, Carlos López-de-Celis, Michael Shacklock, Santos Caudevilla-Polo, Vanesa González-Rueda
Musculoskeletal Science & Practice 2019, 43: 91-95
31374476

INTRODUCTION: In hamstrings injuries, sciatic nerve and muscle disorders can coexist. Therefore, differential diagnosis to include or exclude nerve involvement is an important aspect of evaluation. The objective of this paper is to investigate the mechanical behaviour of the sciatic nerve and biceps femoris muscle in the proximal thigh with the ankle dorsiflexion manoeuvre at different degrees of hip flexion during the straight leg raise in cadavers.

MATERIAL AND METHODS: A cross-sectional study was carried out. Linear displacement transducers were inserted into the sciatic nerve and the biceps femoris muscle of 11 lower extremities from 6 fresh cadavers to measure potential strain of both structures during ankle dorsiflexion at 0°, 30°, 60° and 90° of hip flexion during the straight leg raise. Excursion was also measured with a digital calliper.

RESULTS: Ankle dorsiflexion resulted in significant strain and distal excursion of the sciatic nerve at all ranges of hip flexion during the straight leg raise (p < 0.05). In contrast, the ankle movement did not affect the strain in biceps femoris at any position of the hip (p > 0.05).

CONCLUSION: Ankle dorsiflexion at different degrees of hip flexion during the straight leg raise produces changes in the strain and excursion of the sciatic nerve in the upper thigh. In contrast, the biceps femoris muscle at the same location was not affected by ankle movement. These findings show differential behaviour between the nerve and muscle with ankle dorsiflexion at this location that could be used as differential diagnosis in posterior hip pain.

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