Gluteal Pain

Gluteal pain is a common component of many low back pain disorders. In fact, many of the muscles in the gluteal region contain trigger points that refer pain to both the low
back and gluteal regions. The Muscles and Trigger Points that Cause Gluteal Pain.

There are five muscles that can harbor trigger points that produce gluteal pain. The three most commonly involved are:

  • The Gluteus Maximus
  • The Gluteus Medius
  • The Piriformis

The Gluteus Maximus muscle group is the large muscle mass that forms the buttocks. It attaches to the pelvic bone and runs downward to attach to the large leg bone (the femur). This muscle contracts to swing the upper leg backward, and is heavily used during swimming and squatting. Three trigger points can be found in this muscle. All three refer pain in the buttock region. A person with active trigger points in this muscle will have difficulty sitting comfortably.

The Gluteus Medius muscle group is a small fan shaped muscle that lies partially underneath the larger Gluteus Maximus muscle group. It attaches just under the rim of the pelvic bone, and runs diagonally downward to attach on the leg bone at the hip joint. This muscle functions to raise the leg to the side, and to stabilize the pelvis during walking. Trigger points in this muscle refer pain to the buttocks and along the belt-line. A person with active Gluteus Medius trigger points will have pain during walking, and difficulty laying on their side while sleeping.

The Piriformis muscle is a short, small muscle that is located deep in the buttock region. It functions to rotate the thigh, and helps to stabilize the hip joint during walking. This muscle lies next to a major nerve (the Sciatic Nerve) and blood vessels. Trigger points in this muscle can cause it to become tense enough for it to entrap or compress the nerve and blood vessel, producing systems such as pain, numbness, and swelling that travel down the leg from the gluteal region. When this entrapment occurs, it is termed Piriformis Syndrome. Additionally, the Piriformis trigger points may refer pain to the buttock and hip joint regions.

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