What a Pain in the Butt(ocks)!

backaButtock PainTypically, when we hear an exclamation such as this, we think of its hidden meaning. Not today! In this post, we are going to address the literal pain that may occur in the buttocks. In many cases, cramping or aching in this region goes untreated. It shouldn’t. The buttocks sit in proximity to the spine, so pain in this area could indicate a spinal condition that needs to be addressed.

Here, we will look at two different types of buttock pain, what they may be, and what you can do to improve comfort.

The Lower Buttock

Where: Lower buttock pain occurs where the lower cheek meets the thigh. Pain may occur when you run or walk and may become worse when you lean forward at the hips without bending the legs.

Why: Pain in the lower buttock may be due to a strain of the tendon that attaches the hamstring to the pelvis.  This strain may occur if a pre-workout stretch is not performed.

What to do: It is natural to think that a tight hamstring should be stretched. Not so fast! Stretching could further irritate the already-tensed muscles. What is needed is rest and circulation. When moving the flustered hamstring, do so with bent knees and gradually increase the stretch over several days.

The Upper/Outer Buttock

Where: Pain that originates at the upper, outside quadrant of the buttock may also radiate down the side of the leg. When you lie on that side or walk, pain may become worse.

Why: Weak abductor muscles, which include the gluteus maximus, are responsible for moving the legs away from the midline of the body. These muscles may become weak if movement patterns are not symmetrical, or balanced.

What to do: A routine response to pain is the urge to stretch. Stretching this area works the IT band, not the abductors. These muscles need to be strengthened to resolve pain. This may include stabilization exercises (standing on one leg) and strengthening (moving against resistance).

Sometimes the causes of pain in the buttocks are muscle-related. Sometimes, they may be related to nerves in the hip or back. A thorough examination should be performed to accurately diagnose the cause of buttocks pain. That way, appropriate treatment can begin, and you can get back to a comfortable state of being.

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Posted in: Buttock Pain