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Deep Gluteal Syndrome: A Pain In The Butt

Updated: Sep 30, 2023

Do you have unexplained pain in your lower back and hip? Does that pain radiate down the back of your leg to your knee or further?

You've seen your doctor, but they said they couldn't do anything to help. No one can find the source of your pain. If this sounds like you, you may be suffering from deep gluteal syndrome.

What is deep gluteal syndrome?

piriformis muscle
Piriformis Muscle - One of the muscles affected by DGS

Deep gluteal syndrome occurs when muscles beneath the large gluteal muscles are overworked, become tight, and compress the sciatic nerve. The muscles in your butt and hip area are part of a group of muscles that rotates the hip. These muscles can compress the sciatic nerve when over-contracted, leading to pain in the lower back and hip that radiates down the leg.

What causes deep gluteal syndrome?

Some causes are genetic, including scoliosis, differences in leg length, and abnormal muscle development.

Another cause is prolonged lack of movement. The smaller, deeper muscles work extra hard to compensate when the glute muscles weaken. This is especially true if you sit in positions that strain your muscles, including:

  • wallet in your back pocket

  • feet tucked under you

  • legs crossed

  • long stretches in a car

  • a less-than-ideal workspace (thank you, Covid.)

Other causes include:

  • excessive vigorous exercise

  • unconscious tensing of muscles

  • overcompensation from another injury

How do you treat deep gluteal syndrome?

The best way to treat the problem is to

find the cause. But, unfortunately, that's easier said than done. Everyone has different routines, and our bodies all react differently.

First, stay hydrated and get plenty of sleep. I know that sounds unhelpful, but both are necessary for reducing inflammation in the body. Applying heat to the area can also help tremendously.

Then it's time to start analyzing your routine. For example, when do you notice pain most often? What activities could be related? Do you live an active or sedentary lifestyle? Do you identify with any causes of deep gluteal syndrome listed above? What changes could you make that may affect your pain?

Can massage therapy help?

Because our bodies react so differently, including to massage therapy, it's impossible to know for sure if it will help you until you try.

However, for most people in my practice, yes. Massage therapy has been beneficial to many clients presenting with the symptoms of deep gluteal syndrome. I've even seen clients experience immediate relief from a massage session.

Until Next Time

Massage therapy can help many problems and is part of a balanced, healthy lifestyle, but it isn't magic. However, you can implement several essential habits to manage your pain and improve your health, and I created a free downloadable PDF to make it easy for you. So grab your copy of 5 Easy Steps to Better Health, book your next massage, and start becoming a healthier version of yourself today.

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