What is deep gluteal syndrome?

Deep gluteal syndrome is pain and numbness you feel in your buttocks (bottom) that can sometimes go down the back of your leg. This pain is caused by the muscles, skin, and blood vessels in your buttocks pressing on nerves. This pressure sends signals to the brain that can cause severe pain. Small amounts of pain that go away after a few days or a week are normal, but deep gluteal syndrome causes pain that is usually more severe and doesn’t go away, even with rest and basic care at home. Some other conditions are similar to deep gluteal syndrome, part of it, or have many of the same symptoms. These include: 

  • Piriformis syndrome. Deep gluteal syndrome used to be called piriformis syndrome, because healthcare providers thought the pain always came from the piriformis, a muscle in your buttock, pressing on your sciatic nerve. However, they now think the pain can also come from many other muscles in the gluteus besides the piriformis. 
  • Sciatica. Sciatica is a symptom of a problem with the sciatic nerve, which controls the muscles in your knee and lower leg. The sciatic nerve also lets you feel the back of your thigh, your lower leg, and the sole of your foot. When this nerve is under pressure or damaged, you can feel serious pain in all these areas that doesn’t go away.

Symptoms

The most common symptom of deep gluteal syndrome is sciatica, which is nerve pain in the back of your thigh, lower leg, and sole of your foot. Other symptoms can include: 

  • Tenderness or aching in the buttock. 
  • Tingling or numbness that extends down the back of your leg. 
  • Having a hard time sitting. 
  • Feeling pain that gets worse the longer you sit. 
  • Pain that gets worse with activity like walking or exercise. 
  • Severe pain in the lower body. 

Usually, you’ll feel the symptoms on one side of your body but depending on how the deep gluteal syndrome was caused, you might feel it on both sides. 

When to See a Doctor

Call your healthcare provider if: 

  • The pain in your buttock, thigh, lower leg, or the sole of your foot doesn’t go away after a few weeks or is getting worse 
  • Your pain started after an injury

Get medical attention right away if:

  • The pain in your buttock, thigh, or lower leg is combined with numbness
  • You have trouble controlling your foot You have trouble controlling your bladder or bowels

 

More Information

Causes

The symptoms of deep gluteal syndrome are usually caused by the muscles, bones, or other parts of your gluteus pushing on the nerves in that part of your body, including the sciatic nerve. This can happen because the gluteal muscles get irritated or injured, which can make them swell and spasm. Muscles can be hurt for many reasons, including:

  • Sitting for long periods
  • Exercising too much
  • Repetitive activities like running, walking, or climbing a lot of stairs
  • Playing sports, especially contact sports like football
  • Lifting heavy objects

In addition to these everyday activities, you might also damage the muscles in your gluteus with trauma that can be caused by:

  • A car accident
  • A fall Twisting your hip too hard and too fast
  • A deep wound, like from a knife

If your pain starts after a trauma or injury, be sure to get medical attention right away.